Cogs 180: Neural Coding in Sensory Systems (Spring 2017)

Tue & Thr 3:30-4:50
CSB 004 - by appointment

Course website:


Angela Yu (Professor)

/ phone: 858-822-3317

Office Hours: Tue & Thr 4:50-5:45 in SSRB 246

Course Description

(Current syllabus is preliminary and subject to change)

This course covers recent advances in the understanding of common neural mechanisms and computational principles underlying the brain’s ability to process multiple sources of sensory information—vision, audition, olfaction, touch, and equilibrioception—and translate them into actions.

This seminar course will consist of lectures, reading, discussion, and writing related to research articles (primary and reviews). Students are especially encouraged to think deeply through some of these major questions in sensory neuroscience and bring their thoughts to class for active discussions.

Pre-reqs for Cogs 180: Cogs 1, Cogs 14B, Cogs 101A, Cogs 109, or consent of instructor.


All readings will be posted on the course website.

Course Details and Policies


Participation (20%): read papers and submit questions before class, in-class and also Piazza participation (see details below).

Discussion leading (25%): Email draft slides by Friday/Tuesday 3PM (, “Cogs 180 slides for <date>”), final slides (revised based on feedback, if necessary) by Monday/Wednesday 3PM. Use lecture 2 slides as example: use illuminating figures (can be from referenced papers instead of assigned reading itself) and bullet points to highlight important messages and potential discussion points.

Weekly assignments (30%): posted every Friday, due following Friday (4 PM) by email, one paragraph per question, PDF format. Reference specific quotes or page numbers in the readings to back up your statements. Some especially insightful discussion questions/answers may be awarded with extra credit. Late submission incurs -20% penalty for each day of delay, *including weekends*.

Final in-class assignment (15%): open notes, open texts

Final project & presentation (10%): summarize three research talks/papers, and present them in class

This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, the TA, and myself. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email

Find our class page at:

Course Schedule

Week Date Topic Readings Assignments Presenter(s)
1 Tue Apr 04 Course overview & introduction to vision (slides)

Prof. Yu
Thu Apr 06 Retina (slides)
Gollisch & Meister, 2010

Optional reading:
Marr, D. (1982). Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information.
HW 1
Prof. Yu
2 Tue Apr 11 LGN
Weyand, 2016 (online text)

Thu Apr 13 LGN
Weyand, 2016 (online text) HW 2

3 Tue Apr 18 V1
Nassi & Callaway, 2009

Thu Apr 20 Visual attention
Treue, 2001 HW 3

4 Tue Apr 25 Multistable perception
Blake & Logothetis, 2002

Thu Apr 27 Multistable perception
Blake & Logothetis, 2002 HW 4

5 Tue May 02 Perceptual decision-making
Gold & Shadlen, 2007

Optional Reading:
slides on SPRT

Thu May 04 Perceptual decision-making
Gold & Shadlen, 2007 HW 5

6 Tue May 09 Auditory processing
Grothe et al, 2010

Thu May 11 Auditory processing
Grothe et al, 2010 HW 6

7 Tue May 16 Olfactory processing
Su et al, 2009

Thu May 18 Olfactory processing
Su et al, 2009 HW 7

8 Tue May 23 Somatosensory processing
Petersen, 2007

Thu May 25 Somatosensory processing
Petersen, 2007 HW 8

9 Tue May 30 Multimodal processing & perceptual learning
Shams & Seitz, 2008

Thu Jun 01 Multimodal processing & perceptual learning

10 Tue Jun 06 In-class essay assignment

Thu Jun 08 Research talk/paper presentation