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Cognition / Perception

Cognition / Perception

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Perception

Perception is one of the oldest and most fundamental disciplines within Psychology, dating back to at least the time of the ancient Greeks. The goal of perception research is to understand how stimuli from the world interact with our sensory systems, forming visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory representations of the world. Research in perception and psychophysics is directed at discovering the lawful relations between environmental events and subjective experience. This area spans a wide range of problems extending from the structure and function of the sense organs, through the processing of sensory information, to the nature of subjective experience and the methods by which an accurate description of these experiences is obtained. As such, an understanding of perception is critical for all areas within Psychology. The modern study of perception is highly integrative, combining cognitive, behavioural, computational, developmental, and neuroscientific approaches.

 


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McMaster's cognitive psychologists study a wide variety of problems, but are united in the goal of understanding how people mentally represent their experience and then use these representations to operate effectively. Neisser launched the "cognitive revolution" in 1966 with these words: "the world of experience is produced by the man who experiences it". This statement captures the student of cognition's belief that people are not passive organisms whose mental representations are simple or direct reflections of the outside world. Rather, they are active processors of environmental events, and as such they bring their past knowledge and their biases to bear on how they perceive and understand all current events. Thus, perceiving, imagining, thinking, remembering, forming concepts, and solving problems, indeed all aspects of people's mental lives, define the domain of cognitive exploration.


For Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate courses in this area of research are designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary view and to highlight the connections among cognition, perception and other sub-disciplines within psychology.  A solid base in human perception and cognition (PNB 2XA3) is followed by courses in human memory (PSYCH 3VV3), language (PSYCH 3NL3, 3UU3), audition (PSYCH 3A03), and cognitive neuroscience (PSYCH 3BN3, 4BN3).  Developmental issues are also relevant, for example, cognitive development (PSYCH 3II3), and development during infancy (PSYCH 3HH3).  Students may study the multisensory mind (PSYCH 3D03), the arts and the brain (PSYCH 3H03), learning and memory (PSYCH 3FA3), and vision (PSYCH 3J03).  Practical laboratory skills are obtained from a relevant lab course (PNB 3EE3, 3MM3, 3V03).  Students considering graduate school should consider completing a course with a strong research component (PNB 4QQ3, 4D06, 4DD6, 4D09). Students who graduate with a focus in this area are well prepared for graduate studies in psychology and related disciplines, professional studies such as medicine, or research positions in government, university or industry.


For Graduate Students

The research effort in Cognition and Perception at McMaster is diverse and many broad areas of interest are represented. We study vision, audition, touch, multi-sensory integration, perceptual and cognitive development, attention and spatial processing, human factors, psychophysics, music perception, perceptual illusions and after effects. We investigate the formation and use of concepts, the modeling of memory processes, human communication skills, and reading and its development. Our associates in the Psychiatry Department broaden the McMaster experience with their studies of normal and abnormal development and of neuropsychological aspects of human perception and cognition.


Students have opportunities to hear and present research throughout the year. Browse the web pages of our associated faculty members to learn more about the Cognition and Perception laboratories. Visit our graduate web page for details on applying to our graduate programme.

Cognition and Perception Faculty

Paul Andrews - I primarily study the functional effects of depression on cognition and behaviour, the underlying neurological mechanisms, and the implications for understanding the evolutionary history of depression. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sue Becker - Computational and cognitive neuroscience of learning and memory. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Patrick Bennett - Spatial vision, psychophysics, perceptual learning & development, aging & vision, ideal observer theory. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Steven Brown - The neural basis of human communication processes, with a focus on the  arts. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Dan Goldreich - Tactile perception and psychophysics, Tactile perceptual consquences of cortical plasticity following sensory deprivation, Tactile perception as Bayesian inference. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Geoffrey Hall - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Karin Humphreys - psycholinguistics, normal and pathological language production, speech errors, stuttering. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bruce Milliken - Attention and visual perception. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kathryn M. Murphy - Visual neuroscience, the role of environmental and genetic factors in development of visual function. 

Allison Sekuler - Cognition neuroscience, visual perception, perceptual organization, face and object recognition, motion perception, aging and vision, neuroimaging. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Judith M. Shedden - Visual spatial attention, object processing, visual perception, memory brain-imaging. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

David Shore - Crossmodal temporal processing, memory and visual search, varieties and effects of attention. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hongjin Sun - Visual neuroscience, visual motion processing and visuomotor control, virtual reality. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Laurel J. Trainor - Development of auditory perception. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Scott Watter - Divided attention and executive control. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.