Basic principles of visual and auditory perception

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you should be able to:


  • define perception, sensation, illusions, and both top-down and bottom-up processing


  • name the key Gestalt psychologists


  • list six laws of Gestalt perception


  • name two famous optical illusions, and explain why they occur


  • describe the key points along the central visual and auditory pathways


  • define the ‘critical period’ in visual development


  • identify the ages at which key visual processes develop in humans including depth perception, visual acuity and colour vision


  • describe two to three neuroanatomical findings in auditory hallucinations


  • explain two to three neurotransmitter changes in auditory hallucinations


  • state two to three cognitive theories on auditory hallucinations.


Module introduction

If I stopped to think through all of the many complex, interconnected (as well as distinct) pathways and processes that enable me to sit here and type out this first paragraph, I wouldn’t get much typing done. Thinking only of what I see, ignoring the abundance of other sensory information bombarding me at any given moment, I am somehow able to focus on a computer, which is apparently sitting still on a table. I am aware of potential distractions in the periphery, but can still concentrate on the screen and direct my hands to type out these words, which I somehow perceive to be ‘words’.


After two centuries of study, we are still debating the exact processes underlying perception and its disturbance (for example, auditory hallucinations). Much of the basic science and theories we will encounter in this module are those driving the latest exciting multidisciplinary research in this area.


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Learning notes

We recommend that you make some notes as you work through this module.


The 'TrOn Notebook' facility can be accessed throughout the module (allowing you to make notes on each page), and these notes will be saved in your personal area 'My TrOn', for future reference. However, you will not be able to print these notes as one single document.


If you would prefer to make your notes in a separate document you may wish to download the 'learning notes' below. This downloadable Word document will allow you to keep a personalised record of your learning, which you can then save and/or print for future reference.


Download the learning notes document for this module


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