How can you fool a wine expert? (Quite easily.)
Why do healthy people hear spoken words in noise?
Why do we eat more when we see there is more food left?
Our sensory perception easily falls prey to illusions and biases. It is tempting to think of these as failures of our brain, but they might not be! In fact, they reveal the difficult challenges that our brain faces when interpreting the world, and the clever (and sometimes not so clever) solutions that it comes up with.
In this course, we will use a wide variety of well-known and lesser-known illusions (visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, and multisensory) to work towards the central concept of inference: the notion that the brain constantly forms hypotheses about the outside world and tries to figure out which of them is most probable.
We will draw parallels with
fun examples from online shopping to medical diagnosis
to spam filtering to election forecasting to searching
for submarines. We will have guest lectures by outside
experts: one about neurological disorders of
perception, about illusions in aviation, and about 3D
illusory street art.
Spring 2016 semester
Prerequisite: Intro to Psychology, or instructor permission.
Counts as "advanced elective" for Psych majors
Time: Mondays 4-6:30 PM
Location: Meyer 815
Instructor: Wei Ji Ma, Ph.D.
15% class participation