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Is there any introductory-level material available on psychophysics that you can recommend to someone without a background in cognitive sciences? Visual stimuli is the main area of interest.

Edit: Question has been narrowed down in response to comments

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Could you narrow down your question a bit? As it stands now, it's too broad to get an exact answer. –  Chuck Sherrington Jul 4 '13 at 12:18
    
@ChuckSherrington I hope that this is now narrow enough –  Martin Källman Jul 4 '13 at 14:46
    
Ah, okay, yes the "visual stimuli" portion was what I was after. Thanks! Psychophysics is a huge field, so that will help someone get you the answer you actually want. –  Chuck Sherrington Jul 4 '13 at 14:48
    
What languages are you fluent in? –  what Jul 6 '13 at 20:33
    
@what English and Swedish –  Martin Källman Jul 8 '13 at 11:35
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4 Answers

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To help get you started on the topic of visual stimuli in psychophysics:

This webpage, "Psychophysics of Vision" goes right back to basics and explains the background knowledge associated with psychophysics of visual stimuli. They also seem to suggest some simple experiments to try.

There is also "Software for visual psychophysics", with an extensive explanation (and further links) as you read the page.

Hopefully, these are a good start for you.

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I never read any English textbooks on psychophysics, so I cannot help you there. If I wanted to find a good one, I would look at the curricula at some universities and see which books they use or recommend. Such information is often available online.

Beyond a textbook, like user1406647 (+1), I find it enlightening to read classic experiments by the inventors of psychophysics. Their texts are easy to understand without much previous knowledge, and the experiments are simple and foundational for the understanding of the principles of psychophysics. Also, I believe that textbooks only ever give a vague and superficial idea of a field, while confrontation with original texts provides a deeper insight. This is especially true for the presentation of theories: in textbooks they are always abbreviated beyond recognition. Textbooks are good in that they provide a possible structure (e.g. they group authors and theories), delineate historical development, and summarize critique. They are like maps: you'll have to do the walking yourself, but you know where you might find the most spectacular sights.

That said, I want to give some few examples that I found especially basic. Any one of these or similar articles will give you an understanding of what psychophysics is about. A good textbook should give you some references to more such experiments.

  • Charpentier on the Size-Weight-Illusion:
    Charpentier, M. A. (1891). Analyse expérimentale de quelques éléments de la sensation de poids. Archives de Physiologie Normale et Pathologique. Cinquième Série, 3, 122-135. Available online at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k4327622/f125.image
    An English translation by David J. Murray and Robert R. Ellis has fortunately been archived at http://www.oocities.org/robertellis600/charp.htm
    Background information on Charpentier's article is provided in:
    Murray, D. J., Ellis, R. R, Bandomir, C. A., & Ross, H. E. (1999). Charpentier (1891) on the size-weight illusion. Perception & Psychophysics, 61, 1681-1685. doi:10.3758/BF03213127

  • Plateau on Averaging of Achromatic Colors:
    Plateau, J. (1872). Sur la mesure des sensations physiques, et sur la loi qui lie l'intensité de ces sensations à l'intensité de la cause excitante. Bulletins de L'Academie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 2me Sér., 33, 376-388.
    An English translation by Janet and Donald Laming has been published as:
    Laming, J., & Laming, D. (1996). J. Plateau: On the measurement of physical sensations and on the law which links the intensity of these sensations to the intensity of the source. Psychological Research, 59, 134-144. doi:10.1007/BF01792434
    The experiment has been replicated and discussed in:
    Heller, J. (2001). Mittenbildung bei achromatischen Farben: Das klassische Experiment von Plateau. Zeitschrift für Experimentelle Psychologie, 48, 259-271. doi:10.1026//0949-3946.48.4.259

  • I'll update this answer with more examples when I have the time.

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Research articles by Igor Dolgov (NMSU) and Mike McBeath (ASU) are good research-grade articles on this topic. They are both active scientists with well-referenced papers. I chose to work around them because of the quality of their ideas.

Dolgov is more focused on Ecological perceptual models. McBeath is an illusion 'junkie'. Bother have done much work related to sports phenomenon, including perceptual motion biases.

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Try to find following authors and researches: Fechner, S.S. Stevens and Weber.

Those experiments are easily to reproduce... New psychophysic is melted with neuroscience in some way.

a/ it is easy to reproduce if you don't have expensive equipment; b/ it shows how physics and psychology shows outer and inner world respectively ie. on physics side you can measure intensity of light and on psychology side you can measure if participant saw this intensity of light, after that you can check hypotheses with simple statistical procedures like chi-square or student t-test and c/historical reasons

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Can you elaborate a little bit on why these authors and papers are pertinent for future readers of the question? –  Chuck Sherrington Jul 7 '13 at 17:40
    
In my opinion it is important because of three reasons: a/ it is easy to reproduce if you don't have expensive equipment; b/ it shows how physics and psychology shows outer and inner world respectively ie. on physics side you can measure intensity of light and on psychology side you can measure if participant saw this intensity of light, after that you can check hypotheses with simple statistical procedures like chi-square or student t-test and c/historical reasons –  ICanFeelIt Jul 9 '13 at 5:45
    
@ChuckSherrington Also see my answer. –  what Jul 9 '13 at 11:53
    
@user1406647 Please update your answer to reflect what you have said in your comment, such that this information is more easily accessible by other users :) –  Martin Källman Jul 9 '13 at 15:56
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