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Hearing, Tasting, Touching
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Hearing, Tasting, Touching

Understanding the World Through Our Senses

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Western Curriculum Course #1212300 Title: Hearing, Tasting, Touching: Understanding the World Through Our Senses Author: Professor Rolf Nelson, Wheaton College Program Description: Our sensory systems give us a rich and detailed experience of the world. They are something that we are intimately familiar with - we use them every minute of our waking lives - yet surprisingly enough, we often take them for granted. It is true that we rely on our senses for knowing all about the external world, yet they are even more than that. Our senses are essential to who we are; they are part and parcel of every thought and emotion that we can express. Many are familiar with the commonly known senses - sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. But most do know realize that humans have other senses beyond these. This is not, however, a spooky " sixth sense" of extrasensory perception. But humans do have a different kind of sixth sense. We also have a seventh sense, and it can be debated that we have even more. These additional senses are in fact specialized systems to detect other aspects of the world that we rarely consider, though they are an important part of our everyday life. Throughout the animal kingdom, there are examples of organisms that have developed the ability to sense what is necessary in the ecological niche that they find themselves in. Bats, and independently, many marine mammals like dolphins, have developed the ability to use sound to navigate their environments. Bees, ants, and some fish see light far beyond what humans are capable of perceiving. Many aquatic animals can sense electrical currents. And an increasing number of animals are being added to the list of those who can take advantage of the earth' s magnetic fields to navigate over long distances. Although humans have a broad range of sensory experience, it really is just a tiny fraction of what is out there. This series intriguing series of lectures takes a wide survey of the world of the senses beyond vision, exploring how our senses and our brain enable us to hear, smell, touch, taste, balance, and otherwise perceive the world around us. Lecture Titles: Lecture 1: An Introduction To the Senses Lecture 2: Sound and Hearing Lecture 3: A Larger World of Sound: Navigating the World with Echolocation Lecture 4: Chemical Senses, Part 1: Taste Lecture 5: Chemical Senses, Part 2: Smell Lecture 6: Touch Lecture 7: Beyond the Basics: Balance and Synesthesia Lecture 8: Strange Senses: Electricity, Magnetism, and Others About Professor Nelson: Rolf Nelson is an Associate Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., where he teaches courses in perception, cognition, learning and memory, and consciousness. Nelson received his PhD in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor award for his teaching. He earned his BA from Macalester College in St. Paul, in his home state of Minnesota. Nelson is a member of both the Psychonomic Society and the Vision Sciences Society, and often presents his research at their annual meetings. He has published numerous research articles on topics within visual perception, including visual orientation and the sense of upright (inspired by the Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz, Calif.), figure-ground organization, the perception of negative space, and attention. He has received media attention for his published work on video games and cognition. Nelson currently resides in Providence, R.I., with his wife and two children.


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