Further information: Jim Rafferty: Color Vision: Psychology, Physics, Neuroscience, Philosophy…
Classes will consist of informal lectures, combined with student questions and guided discussion. In keeping with the course goal of not simply providing you with information but involving you in critically thinking about the topics, I will ask lots of questions and facilitate problem solving discussions. One class will be devoted entirely to developing a hypothetical world and visual systems that are evolved for that world. You are requested not to Google topics to be discussed prior to a class meeting but are encouraged to do so following a class meeting…and raise questions at the next class meeting. I will structure my class meetings with presentation slides that follow the schedule of classes below.
You will receive copies of the slides presented in a class meeting prior to each meeting. Some slides as well as info on particular slides might be omitted on these copies; this is to facilitate the discussion of and critical thinking about topics. Slides will be made available electronically (as .pdfs, with your choice of 1, 4, or 9 slides per page). The advantage of .pdfs is that you will have a color copy of what will be presented in class; in addition, you can choose the size of the slides to best suit your needs. All of the slides will be presented in class, so it will not be necessary to look at the .pdf while the Zoom class is meeting. Following the class, you will receive the complete set of slides shown during that class meeting (with links and any omitted material as well as notes from during the class). It will be important that you are comfortable with looking at .pdfs on your device; these will be the only way that you can access the course materials. I will not be providing (nor encouraging) printing of those materials. My hope is that the class uses as little paper and ink (especially color!) as possible.
Prior to a class meeting, you are encouraged to go through the slides you receive for that meeting and think about additional material that might be included or questions you might have; you are asked not to Google topics. After a class meeting, I encourage you to go through the complete set of slides shown during that class meeting, ensuring that you understand the logic of what was discussed and generating questions for anything that is not clear to be asked at the next class meeting. You are also encouraged to Google topics and share what you find at the next class meeting. There is not a text for this class.
Schedule of classes (subject to modification)
Jan. 5 Overview of major background concepts:
Stimuli and information
Processing and processing trade-offs
Construction of a (mental) representation and consciousness
Two “hard” philosophical questions in psychology and physics
Brief history of ideas about how vision works
Jan. 12 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
What is the stimulus for vision? What information does it provide and how?
What is light? What is visible light?
Interaction of light and surfaces
Characteristics of incident light
Characteristics of reflected light
Mixing colors: subtraction and addition
Brief discussion of optics
How does the eye turn external information into internal information?
What information is preserved?
Jan. 19 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Are we all colorblind?
Discussion of some neuroscience
Action potentials: molecules and electrical change
Visual pathways in the brain
What neural processing leads to color perception?
Jan. 26 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Discussion of color names and characteristics
What was the likely evolution of human color vision?
Considerations of environment and physiology
Discussion of color blindness and possible “fixes”
Feb. 2 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Discussion of color photography, printing, and screens
What colors do infants see and how is that related to physiological changes?
What changes in color perception are likely to occur in older adults…and how can they be “fixed”?
Feb. 9 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Discussion of “color” (EMR) perception in other organisms
Importance of available light and surface characteristics
What can be learned about environments and internal representations by considering the evolution of “color” (EMR) vision in other organisms?
Feb. 16 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Class project (in small groups):
Develop a hypothetical system in which organisms have evolved to process “color” information (EMR); the system should be (to the best of your ability) logically possible given what we know about the physics of the cosmos (you are free to Google info to check this)
Present your hypothetical system and organism, responding to questions and defending your decisions
Feb. 23 Questions and ideas concerning previous class meeting or found by Googling topics
Overview of class and discussion of any lingering topics
As time permits, discussion of the role of color in art…at least in terms of some of the topics covered in this class