ECE 51100 - Psychophysics

Course Details

Lecture Hours: 3 Credits: 3

Areas of Specialization:

  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Engineering

Counts as:

  • EE Elective - Special Content
  • CMPE Selective - Special Content

Normally Offered:

Each Fall


On-campus only


Must be enrolled as a junior, senior or graduate classification.

Catalog Description:

Psychophysics is the quantitative study of the relationship between a physical stimulus and perception. This course focuses on the theory and practice of assessing human performance in terms of detection, discrimination, reconstruction and identification of physical events. Furthermore, it discusses mathematical and computational modeling of the underlying psychological mechanisms. Course material is presented in the context of visual, auditory, and haptic human-machine interfaces. The laboratory component of the course enables the students to practice designing, implementing and conducting psychophysical experiments.

Required Text(s):

  1. Detection Theory: A User's Guide , 2nd Edition , N. A. Macmillan & C. D. Creelman , Cambridge University Press , ISBN No. 0-8058-4230-6

Recommended Text(s):

  1. Detection Theory: A User's Guide , 1st Edition , N. A. Macmillan & C. D. Creelman , Cambridge University Press , ISBN No. 0-521-36359-4
  2. Psychophysics: Method, Theory, and Application , 2nd Edition , G. A. Gescheider , Lawrence Erlbaum Associates , ISBN No. 0-89859-375-1

Learning Outcomes

A student who successfully fulfills the course requirements will have demonstrated:

  • Identify a psychophysical problem, and formulate the problem as a detection, discrimination, reconstruction or identification experiment
  • Select an appropriate experimental paradigm
  • Determine the range of physical parameters that are meaningful for the specific problem, and determine the experimental parameters such as number of subjects and total trials with consideration for the statistical robustness of experimental data
  • Analyze experimental data in terms of threshold or information, and form mathematical models

Lecture Outline:

Weeks Topics
0.5 Introduction: Psychophysics in a Nutshell
2 Fechnerian Psychophysics
0.5 Signal Detection Theory
1.5 One-interval Paradigms
0.5 Rating Experiment
1.5 Two-interval Paradigms
0.5 Adaptive Methods
1 Introduction to Information Theory
2 Absolute Identification Paradigm
1 Speed-accuracy Tradeoff
2 Perception as Inverse Problems
1 Multidimensional Scaling
1 Student Project Presentations

Assessment Method: