ISBN: 1-891340-78-6

Making Sense of Sensory Information With Dale Purves, Ph.D.

Institutional DVD price: $ 250.00


For thousands of years, humans have asked if we perceive the world accurately through our senses. Because seeing is so important for our functioning in the world, efforts to understand how perceptions are generated have most often focused on vision. Based on current research in cognitive neuroscience, this film explores the challenge of explaining visual perception. The production includes an overview of the human visual system, illustrated with animated graphics and live action footage, and it describes, using a series of engaging optical demonstrations, the profound technical and philosophical challenges scientists face in attempting to explain perception. The film ends with a thought provoking discussion of the essential role of human experience in determining what we perceive.


Learning Guide


Discussion Topics



Review 1

"This clear and accessible film will provide an excellent resource for both students and teachers of vision. The discrepancy between the image in the eye and what we actually perceive is demonstrated using a variety of compelling visual illusions that will both bewilder and amaze. A logical explanation for this discrepancy is then provided in a thought-provoking theory on how we make sense out of sensory information. An informative and stimulating introduction into the mysteries of sensory perception."

--Dr. Tim Andrews, Department of Psychology, University of York, UK

Review 2

"Leading vision researcher Dale Purves uses a dazzling and engaging display of illusions in this film to introduce us to some of the most profound questions to have puzzled thinkers over many centuries. What is reality? How does the reality "out there" map onto the images formed on the retina of the eye and resulting patterns of neural activity? Purves pulls together the many threads of his demonstrations with a functionalist hypothesis worthy of William James-we respond the way we do to stimulation because we are the end products of millions of years of trial-and-error learning about the world. With clear language, outstanding visuals, and perfect pacing for today's student, this film works well across levels of experience from the introductory psychology classroom to the advanced course in sensation/perception. The supplementary materials (learning and discussion guides) make integrating the film into courses and stimulating further discussion and projects effortless."

--Dr. Laura Freberg, Ph.D. Department of Psychology, Cal Poly State University



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