Psy 402                                               Brain & Cognition                             Spring 2005

                                                            REVISED SYLLABUS


T/Th  2-3:15

Modern Languages room 202


Instructor:   Dr.  Cyma Van Petten, Psychology Rm 109,

Office hours:  Tuesdays 3:30-5:30  or by appointment (to make an appointment, send e-mail

                         with possible times. Or if you have a quick question, just send e-mail)


How to get the readings:    All of the regular assigned readings will be available electronically, in PDF format.  You will need a computer with a web browser and Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) installed, and some way to print out the articles.  If you’re struggling with any of these, ask your favorite computer guru, or consult me.

- In your browser, go to

- Use the boxes to locate our course

- Password for the course  is           bac           You may be asked for a password at several points,   bac  seems to always work.

- Regular readings are in folders filed by the class meeting date. Plan to do the reading BEFORE the schedule class date.

 - When you go to print out the readings, please note that some have color figures, so that you’ll need to find a color printer to handle those. 

- The website will also include the figures I show in class.  Under each date, look for a file called [date]-fig  (for instance, “jan18-fig”.  Note that the website will NOT include lecture notes, you will be responsible for taking your own.





Jan 13             Introductions


Jan 18             Cortical organization

1) Kolb & Wishaw (1990). Principles of Neocortical  Organization.

2) Figures (jan18-fig)


Jan 20-25        Basics of the visual system

 1) Beatty (1995).  Vision.  Pages 6-8, 13-17, and 24-41 are the most important (beatty-vision)

                        2) Figures shown in class (jan20-fig)

Jan 27             Even primary visual cortex is not so simple       

1)  Lamme & Spekreijse (2000), Contextual modulation in primary visual cortex and scene perception.


Feb 1              Secondary visual cortex makes perceptual inferences

 1) von der Heydt, Peterhans, & Baumgartner (1992), Illusory contours and cortical neuron responses.

Feb 3-8           Overview of methods in cognitive neuroscience    

                        1) Banich (2004).  Methods


Feb 10                        FIRST EXAM


Feb 15                        Visual perception after brain damage shows that vision is several different


1) Sacks (1985). The man who mistook his wife for a hat.

2)  Ellis & Young (1988).  Visual and spatial abilities.


Feb 17                        Two streams of visual processing in the cortex 

1) Mishkin, Ungerleider, & Macko (1983). Object  vision and spatial vision: Two cortical pathways.

2) DeYoe & Van Essen (1988). Concurrent processing streams in monkey visual cortex


Feb 22                        Why two streams?

1) Goodale & Milner (1992). Separate visual pathways for perception and action.


Feb 24                        Introduction to event-related potentials (ERPs)

                        1) See web notes


March 1          Attention alters visual processing

1) Moran & Desimone (1985).  Selective attention gates visual processing in the extrastriate cortex.

2) Luck, Woodman, & Vogel (2000). Event-related  potential studies of attention.

March 3          Introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

1) Cohen & Bookheimer (1994).  Localization of brain function using magnetic resonance imaging.

2) Sereno et al (1995).  Borders of multiple visual  in humans revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging.


March 8          Motion perception:

1) Kourtzi & Kanwisher (2000). Activation of human MT/MST by static images with implied motion.

2) Trueu (2003).  Climbing the cortical ladder from sensation to perception


March 10        SECOND EXAM





March 22        Face perception

1) Farah (1996).  Is face perception ‘special’?   Evidence from neuropsychology.


March 24        Face perception II

1) Gauthier et al (2000). Expertise for cars and birds  recruits brain areas involved in face recognition.

2) Tarr & Cheng (2003).  Learning to see faces and objects.


March 29        NO CLASS


March 31        Early experience vs genetic specification of visual cortical organization

1)  Blakemore, C. & Cooper, G.F. (1970).  Development of the brain depends on the visual environment.   Nature, 228,  447-448.

2)  Kandel, E.R. (1985).  Early experience, critical periods, and developmental fine tuning of brain architecture.  From E.R. Kandel & J.S. Schwartz (Eds.),  Principles of Neural Science, 2nd edition  (pp 757-770).  New York: Elsevier.  ISBN 0-444-00944-2 Pages 759-766 are the most important.


April 5             Effects of sensory experience in the adult cerebral cortex

1) Merzenich,  M.M., & Kaas, J.H. (1982).  Reorganization of mammalian somatosensory cortex following peripheral nerve injury.  Trends in Neurosciences, 5, 434-436. 

2) Ramachandran, V.S., Stewart, M, & Rogers-Ramachandran, D.C. (1992). Perceptual correlates of massive cortical reorganization.   Neuroreport, 3, 583-586.


April 7             More on cortical plasticity without damage, with some discussion of


1) Two figures demonstrating the difference between amplitude, fundamental frequency, and timbre (overtones) in sound waves

2)  Pantev, C., Roberts, L.E., Schulz, Engelien, A., & Ross, B.  (2001).  Timbre-specific enhancement of auditory cortical representations in musicians.  Neuroreport, 12, 169-174.

3)  Recanzone, G.H. (2000).  Cerebral cortical plasticity: Perception and skill acquisition.   From M.S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The New Cognitive Neurosciences (pp 237-247).  Cambridge MA: MIT Press.   ISBN 0-262-07195-9


April 12           Compensatory plasticity across modalities

1) Rauschecker, J.F  (1995). Compensatory plasticity and sensory substitution in the cerebral cortex.  Trends in Neurosciences, 18, 36-43.

2) Neville, H.J.  (1990). Intermodal competition and compensation in development: Evidence from studies of the visual system in congenitally deaf adults.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 608, 71-91.


April 14           THIRD EXAM


April 19           Declarative vs procedural memory: Human amnesia and the medial  

                        temporal lobe

                        1) Eichenbaum, H. (2002).  Chapter 4 from The Cognitive Neuroscience of  Memory


April 21           Animal research on declarative memory

1) Eichenbaum, H. (2002).  Chapter 5 from The Cognitive Neuroscience of  Memory


April 26           Neural mechanisms of learning:  Long-term potentiation and the NMDA


1) Eichenbaum, H. (2002).  Chapter 3 from The Cognitive Neuroscience of  Memory


April 28           Human memory: event-related potential studies

                        Readings to-be-announced


May 3              Human memory: functional magnetic resonance imaging studies                                            Readings to-be-announced


May 12            FINAL EXAM  2-4 PM




Exams & Grading.   Your grade will be based on four tests, each contributing a quarter of your grade. Three of the tests will occur during class time, and the last one during final exams week.  Each exam will cover the preceding section of the course.  Exam questions will be a combination of multiple-choice and short-answer questions which require writing a one-paragraph answer.   Grades will based on alternative #1 or #2 below, whichever produces the largest number of A’s.


Grading alternative #1  -- the curve. The top 20% of the class will get A’s, the next 25% will get B’s, the 40% will get C’s, the next 10% D’s, and the bottom 5% E’s (but no one who scores higher than 50% on average will get a D or E).


Grading alternative #2 – criterion.  A =  83% or above average of the four tests; B  = 71 to 82; C =  58 to 70; D =  50 to 57; E  <  50


Where to find your scores.    Tests will be returned in class.   After each exam, a key with “perfect answers” will be posted on the class website.  


If you miss a test.  You must contact Dr. Van Petten by phone (621-8830) or by e-mail (above) within 48  hours if you miss a test to arrange for a makeup exam.  Makeup exams may have a different format than the class exams at the instructor’s discretion:  for instance, a makeup exam may be oral.  If you don’t arrange for a makeup test within 48 hours of a missed test, your score on that test will be 0.