Welcome to The Primate Visual System!

The class schedule has been updated.

From time to time, announcements will be sent by e-mail. If you have not added the class or have not received any announcements yet, please send your e-mail address to jhesse@caltech.edu.


General Info

  • Instructor: Doris Tsao
  • TA: Janis Hesse
  • Lectures, Tutorials and Student Presentations: Mondays 09:00-11:00, at B101 in BBB
  • Relevant Textbooks [Optional, we do not expect you to buy those)

Course description

Bi/CNS 184. The Primate Visual System. 9 units (3-1-5); third term. This class focuses on the primate visual system, investigating it from an experimental, psychophysical, and computational perspective. The course will focus on two essential problems: 3-D vision and object recognition. Topics include parallel processing pathways, functional specialization, prosopagnosia, object detection and identification, invariance, stereopsis, surface perception, scene perception, navigation, visual memory, multidimensional readout, signal detection theory, oscillations, and synchrony. It will examine how a visual stimulus is represented starting in the retina, and ending in the frontal lobe, with a special emphasis placed on mechanisms for high-level vision in the parietal and temporal lobes. The course will include a lab component in which students design and analyze their own fMRI experiment.

Click for the updated Class schedule

Student presentation topics:

Every student will give presentations on one or two papers. Every date has a given topic and two papers about that topic will be presented. Students can spread their paper presentations over more than one date. Each session consists of two parts: Firstly, the student should prepare a presentation about the paper. The presentation should be concise but clear; mind the different backgrounds of the students. The second part, which should make up about 1/4 of the presentation, is a discussion which the presenter will moderate. For this part please prepare questions to gear the discussion. The whole presentation should be at most 15 minutes.

Below you will soon be able to find a link to choose at least two papers/dates to present on. In case of unresolvable conflicts, papers will be assigned on first-come-first-serve basis.

Below are the papers that were be presented last time but this may change. On every date there will ideally be two paper presentations. There are at least three papers per date so you have a selection. We tried to find at at least one fMRI paper for each topic so you can see how fMRI can be used to address these different questions about vision, as you plan you projects.

Student presentation schedule


Tutorial Notes:

Tutorial 1: MRI principles

Tutorial 2: MRI principles II (Contrast and Image Formation)

Tutorial 4: Matlab

Tutorial 5: PTB

Tutorial 3: fMRI principles (BOLD)

Tutorial 6: The General Linear Model

Tutorial 7-8:  Pipelines and Neuroecon

Lecture Notes:  (note that the lecture topics have changed this year to reading a chapter of Marr’s textbook each week. You can still find the lecture notes from the last time below if you are interested).








Homeworks:  (tbc)

Homework 0: Write an essay about what you think the problem of vision is. Due Date: Friday April 6th.

Homework 0.5. Due Date:

Homework 1 Due Date:

Homework 1.5 Optional

Homework 2  Due Date:

Homework 3 Due Date: