Psychology 4295F 001 FW23

Special Topics in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience: Our Visual Brain

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



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 



Psychology 4295F 001     

Special Topics in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience: Our Visual Brain 





In this course, we will explore the different ways in which the visual system constructs our perception of the world and controls our actions in that world – and how these differences are reflected in the functional organization of the visual pathways in the human brain.  Applications to both the clinic and industry will be discussed. This can be located at: 


If the hyperlink does not work, please copy the entire URL and paste it into your browser’s address window)]  


Antirequisite: Not Applicable 


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 2220A/B, Psychology 2221A/B, or 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 Behavior. Fourth year Main Campus Psychology students and Main Campus Psychology Special Students who receive 70% in the prerequisite course may enroll in this course. 


3 lecture hours, with discussion (1.5 hours, twice a week) 

Course Weight: 0.5 credit 



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: Prof. Mel Goodale  

Office: Room 4125, Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB) 

Phone: (519) 661-2070 (but email preferred) 

Office Hours: 2:30-4:30pm on Thursdays, or by appointment.  


T.A.: David Mekhaiel 



Time and Location of Classes: see Student Centre

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. Please refer to the course syllabus for further information. 



Selected chapters will be provided from: 


  • Goodale, M.A. & Milner, A.D. (2013).   Sight Unseen: An Exploration of Conscious and Unconscious Vision. 2nd Edition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. 218pp. 
  • Milner, A. D., & Goodale, M.A.  (2006).   The Visual Brain in Action: 2nd Edition.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, pp.297  


In addition, empirical papers and reviews from the literature will be available. 




  • To provide an overview of key empirical work and theoretical advances in the study of the human visual system, particularly with respect to the organization of the visual pathways in the cerebral cortex 
  • To encourage reading and writing about scientific studies and theory-building with a view to encouraging critical thinking about fundamental issues in visual neuroscience 

Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Understand the overall organization of the human visual system 


Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing essay. 


In-class presentation 

Mid-term examination 

Final Essay 

Knowledge of Methodologies.  

  • Develop some familiarity with neuropsychological testing, visual psychophysics, neuroimaging, and neurophysiological recording in understanding vision. 

Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing essay. 


In-class presentation 

Mid-term examination 

Final Essay 

Application of Knowledge.  

  • Use their acquired knowledge to read the scientific literature critically. 

Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing an essay. 


In-class presentation 

Mid-term examination 

Final Essay 

Communication Skills.  

  • Communicate ideas in written format with clear logic and compelling arguments.  
  • Learn to give a clear oral presentation 

Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing an essay. 


In-class presentation 

Final Essay 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Develop an appreciation about how much we can and cannot learn about visual processing in humans from current research methods 

Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing an essay. 


In-class presentation 

Final Essay 

Autonomy and Professional Capacity. 

  • Develop confidence to ask questions to clarify understanding 
  • Master complex ideas sufficiently well to present them clearly. 

Reading papers,  participating in class discussion, preparing class presentations, and writing an essay. 


In-class presentation 

Final Essay 





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. 


The course grade is based on four components: class participation, mid-term exam, class presentation, and final essay. 


  1. Class participation in weekly discussions. Class attendance is required (total of 5% of final mark) 
  1. Midterm exam. Multiple choice and short answer, 1.5 hour. Nov 9 (30% of final mark)   
  1. In-class presentation. Each student will create and deliver a presentation to the class (10 min talk; 5 min Q&A) that reviews and critiques an assigned paper in visual neuroscience. (25% of final mark) 
  1. Essay. Students will write an essay on topic in visual neuroscience selected from a provided list. Maximum: 2500-3000 words, excluding references and figures. Due on Dec 7 (40% of final mark) 

Although you can use AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, Bard, Microsoft BING, and others, to search the net for information and to organize that information, you should not use an AI to write the actual essay.  Writing a well-organized, clear, and persuasive essay is an important skill that students are expected to acquire during their years at university.  


When you submit the essay, you must answer the following questions on a separate page: 

  1. Did you use AI: Yes or No 
  1. If you answered 'Yes', list the AI platform(s) that you used. 
  1. Briefly describe how you made use of the platform(s), including examples of the prompts and queries that you provided the AI(s). 




Class participation: The participation mark for each class is worth less than 1% of your final grade and you may miss 2 classes without penalty. You will receive a score of 0 for any missed class after that. If you require a longer-term accommodation for a health or wellness concern lasting more than a week, please seek official accommodation for these weeks by submitting your documentation to the academic counseling office in your home faculty. 

In-class presentations: A schedule of student presentations will be worked out during the two weeks 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 and let the instructor and T.A. know. Students who fail to deliver their presentation without a documented excuse will receive a mark of zero for that course component.  If you have a documented excuse, an arrangement will be made to present the talk on another date, most likely outside of the regularly scheduled hours. Each student will give a 10-min presentation followed by 5 min for questions and discussion. 

 Midterm examination: If you have an excused absence and are unable to write the in-class midterm examination (i.e., academic counselling-approved documentation), then you will write an alternative version with the time and date to be determined. The makeup exam may be in a different format from the regular exam. If you have a non-excused absence and you do not write the exam, you will receive a grade of 0. 

Essay: The essay is due Dec 7.  Students will be penalized 5% per day following this deadline.  

Exceptions will be considered on an individual basis. 




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. 




See Class Schedule 




Week 1 (Sept 7) Welcome to “Our Visual Brain” 


Week 2 (Sept 12) Introduction: What is vision for? 

Week 3 (Sept 19) The functional organization of the visual system I. 

Lecture by David Mekhaiel (Sept 21) 


Week 4 (Sept 26) The functional organization of the visual system II. 

Damage to the ventral stream (Sept 28) 

Week 5 (Oct 3) Damage to the dorsal stream 

In-class presentations (Oct 5) 


Week 6 (Oct 10) Neuroimaging and animal studies 

In class presentations (Oct 12) 

Week 7 (Oct 17) Dissociations between perception and action in intact observers 

In-class Presentations (Oct 19) 

Week 8 (Oct 24) Interactions between the dorsal and ventral streams 

In-class Presentations (Oct 26) 


Week 9 (Oct 31) No Classes: Fall Reading Week 

Week 10 (Nov 7) Blindsight 

Mid-term exam (Nov 9) 

Week 11 (Nov 14) Spatial Neglect 

In-class Presentations (Nov 16) 

Week 12 (Nov 21) Echolocation in the Blind  

In-class Presentations (Nov 23) 


Week 13 (Nov 28) Duplex vision and consciousness 

In-class Presentations (Nov 30) 


Week 14 (Dec 5) Careers and opportunities in cognitive neuroscience 

Essay deadline (Dec 7) 





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.