Perception for Action


Course Objective

The student is able to:
- describe the basic functioning of the sensory systems relevant to
motor control;
- interpret experimental results in the area of perception (including
- distinguish in scientific literature between the experimental results
and the authors’ interpretation;
- apply this knowledge to the study of motor control.

Course Content

The topic of this course is the question: how is sensory information
processed to guide one's action? For instance: how do we know where a
target and (a part of) our body is? The answers to such questions
require knowledge about the sensory organs, their signals, and how these
signals are processed and combined in order to be used to control our
actions. The focus will be on interpreting experimental results on human
behaviour in terms of information processing. We will approach
perception quantitatively, using the psychophysical method, and focus on
the steps needed to translate experimental results into a description of
human information processing. Each topic (e.g. proprioception, motion
perception) is introduced by a lecture discussing some phenomenology and
the underlying mechanisms. Subsequently, the students read several
papers on that topic and answer the questions of an assignment. These
papers and questions are discussed in the next lecture.

Teaching Methods

Amount of contact hours:
Lectures/tutorial 14
Practical 2
Assignments & self-study 68

Each meeting will be a combination of tutorial consisting of a
discussion of the previous assignment (1 hour), and a lecture
introducing the topic of the next assignment (1 hour). In the practical,
the students will compare two psychophysical techniques and discuss
their effectiveness in answering the question what perceptual
information is available.

Method of Assessment

After each lecture, students receive an assignment. Six of them have to
be handed in before the next meeting. These assignments are graded and
count for 10 % of the final grade. The assignment after the final
lecture will contribute 35 %: the remaining 5% on completion of the

Entry Requirements

No entry requirements.


Literature needed for the course will be announced during the course.

Target Audience

The course is developed for students of the Research Master Human
Movement Sciences but is open to​ all students.

Additional Information

Dit is een engelstalige cursus, beschrijving alleen in het Engels

Recommended background knowledge

Basic knowledge of the nervous system is expected (e. g. function of
various brain areas).

General Information

Credits 3 EC
Period P4
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Fac. of Behavioural and Movement Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. J.B.J. Smeets
Examiner prof. dr. J.B.J. Smeets
Teaching Staff prof. dr. J.B.J. Smeets

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Lecture, Computer lab*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: