Psychology 4115F 001 FW23

Atypical Sensory Experience

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.




Department of Psychology 



Psychology 4115F Section 001 

Atypical Sensory Experience 





This course offers an in-depth look at how atypical experiences shape the development of sensory systems. Topics will include the influence of enriched and impoverished environments on sensory perception, interactions with the environment, and non-sensory behaviours like attention & memory.  


Antirequisite: Psychology 4295 if taken in 2018/2019 


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. If you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course. 


Prerequisite(s): One of Psychology 2115A/B, Psychology 2015A/B, Neuroscience 2000, PLUS registration in fourth year Main Campus Honours Specialization in Psychology, fourth year Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, fourth year Honours Specialization in Neuroscience, or fourth year Honours Specialization in Animal Behaviour. Fourth year Main Campus Psychology students and Main Campus Psychology Special Students who receive 75% in the prerequisite course may enroll in this course. 

3 lecture hours; Course Weight: 0.5 


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites. 





Instructor: Dr. Blake Butler  

Office and Phone Number: WIRB 6126 519-661-2111 x 85831  

Office Hours: By Appointment  



Time and Location of Classes: Available on Student Center

Delivery Method: In-Person 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 


2.1 Online Learning Notice: 
Please note: For courses delivered in an online format, include an online component, or are required to pivot online, students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students. 





There is no textbook for this course. Instead, readings will include recent papers that align with the week’s theme. These readings will be posted in advance to the course site, and students will be expected to have complete the reading prior to class to facilitate useful discussion. 




The objective of this course is to extend your knowledge of sensory system development to include exceptional circumstances. A secondary aim is to help develop the skills necessary to appraise the available literature, and to adopt and defend a position either through writing or oral presentation. Topics will include the influence of enriched/deprived experience on sensory development, the relationship between different sensory representations of our environments, and how sensory experience influences non-sensory behaviours. Students will present research in an area that interests them, and engage their classmates in debate on open topics.  


Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Students will develop a deeper understanding of how early experience shapes sensory perception by studying atypical development 
  • Students will think critically about how principles of sensory development can inform therapeutic applications 
  • Students will critically evaluate scientific arguments and assumptions, and use their understanding to develop novel solutions 



Weekly readings will provide core course content 


Each unit will include a week that focuses on interventions 


Students will use their understanding to generate a novel application & measurement strategy 



Creation of, and engagement in weekly presentations 






Final paper 

Communication Skills.  

  • Students will develop the skills required to relate complex science to a broad range of audience 


  • Students will give and receive peer feedback on oral presentations of scientific work 




Students will relate complex science to both scientists and generalist audiences 


Students will develop the ability to provide and respond to constructive feedback 



Oral presentations, public media pieces, and final paper 



Weekly presentations 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Readings will focus on modern approaches to the study of sensory development, with discussion focused on how this work has reshaped traditional understandings and the bounds of knowledge within the field 



Students will reflect on how recent work on atypical experience reshapes their understanding  



Creation of, and engagement in weekly presentations 


Autonomy and Professional Capacity. 

  • Students will be required to work effectively as a team to deliver strong arguments on a tight timeline. 
  • Students will integrate content from across a range of disciplines in a series of self-guided exercises  


Students will create and defend science-based arguments as a team 

Students will combine course concepts with outside knowledge to applications of sensory transfer effects 





Final paper 




The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives. 


Evaluation is based on participation in weekly discussions of assigned readings (you will be required to present on selected dates, and will be expected to have read and be ready to discuss the remainder; 30%), reflections on readings of your choice presented in blog/podcast format (15%), participation in a debate on open topics (20%), and a take-home comprehensive review paper (35%) in which you will analyse and summarize available literature, and discuss theoretical implications. 




A schedule of student presentations will be completed during the first week of class. If a conflict arises and you know you will be unable to present on your assigned week, please find a classmate willing to swap dates. Students who fail to deliver their presentation will receive a mark of zero for that course component. Blog posts/podcasts submitted late will be penalized by 10% per day to a maximum of 50%. Students who fail to attend the class debate will receive a mark of zero for the instructor-graded component of the activity (your contributions leading up to the day of the debate will still be captured by your peer mark). Final papers submitted late will be penalized by 10% per day to a maximum of 50%. Please see Section 11 for the University policy on accommodations. 


PLEASE NOTE: Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%. 


This course is exempt from the Senate requirement that students receive assessment of their work accounting for at least 15% of their final grade at least three full days before the date of the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty. 



The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 


70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s grading guidelines, which are as follows (see: 


A+ 90-100 One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level 

A 80-89 Superior work that is clearly above average 

B 70-79 Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory 

C 60-69 Competent work, meeting requirements 

D 50-59 Fair work, minimally acceptable 

F below 50 Fail 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 






In class presentations – Dates to be assigned early in term: 30% 

Blog/Podcast 1 – Sept 30: 7.5% 

Blog/Podcast 2 – Oct 21: 7.5% 

Debate – Dec 8: 20% 

Final Paper – Dec 8: 35% 




Sept 7 Introduction 

Sept 14 Auditory System – Deafness  

Sept 21 Auditory System – Musical Training 

Sept 28 Auditory System – Therapeutic Intervention 

Oct 5 Visual System – Blindness 

Oct 12 Visual System – Video Games 

Oct 19 Visual System – Therapeutic Intervention 

Oct 26 Somatomotor System 


Nov 9 Transfer I 

Nov 16 Transfer II 

Nov 23 Synaesthesia 

Nov 30 Debate Preparation 

Dec 7 Debate & Summary 





We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 





Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offences. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offences because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offence are described at the following link: 


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


Possible penalties for a scholastic offence include failure of the assignment/exam, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University. 





Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 




Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation. 






Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 


The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.