Animal Sensory Information Science

Hiroaki SOMIYA Professor

Department: School of Agricultural Sciences / Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences

Class Time: 2006 Fall Friday
Recommended for: Biosphere resources science major 3rd year students

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Course Overview

What is the most important ability for animals to survive in nature? First of all, finding enough food is important. However, when it comes to leaving offspring for the future generations, finding a partner and giving a birth are also very important. Therefore, finding sufficient energy source and leaving offspring are the two important abilities to survive in the nature.

Senses are the pipelines of information. Therefore, in order to acquire two necessary abilities above, senses are playing tremendously important roles to obtain sufficient information. In this lecture, we will focus on information obtained with these pipelines. Also we will think about the connection between sensorial and brain, which is deeply connected to the error of sense.

Finally I would like to emphasize that what you study in university has lots of interdisciplinary aspects. Therefore, even if you are in the field of science, it is important to look at things from various points of view. I hope what your experience in this course will provide you lots of new perspectives.

Key Features

  • Contents of the lecture are uploaded every year.
  • I will be in classroom 15 minutes before class starts. Therefore I can set up the presentation and also get some feedbacks from students.
  • Please write the date, theme of the class and name of the speaker in quiz.
  • Quiz will be distributed in the first part of lecture. They will not be distributed for those who are late for class.
  • In the first part of the lecture, there will be review session for the previous lecture and some comments on the previously given quiz.
  • No talking is allowed during lecture.
  • Lecture material is interesting and I am sure that you would like to understand all of the material taught in this class. Even if you do not like the lecturing material, please refrain from talking during lecture because it is going to disturb some other students.

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Course Aims

In this lecture, we will be focusing on roles of sensational to survive in nature. In detail, we will focus on eyesight as an example and aim at deepening your interests through simulated experience. In addition, I would like you to submit reports on something you think interesting in the lecture.


Followings are the main topics that I would like all the students to understand in this course.

  • History of life and current environment of earth
  • History of biological science and meaning of studying in university
  • Construction and feature of animal sensational
  • Construction and feature of human sensational
  • The relation between sensorial and brain
  • Sense and error of sense.


No textbooks are assigned. Handouts will be given in the lecture.


7 reports will be given throughout this course. Evaluation will be given based on your reports and two quizzes. In the report assignments (A4 size 1 page long), you will be asked to write on the issues you think interesting in the lecture. This report is going to be a good practice to for you to increase your interests and deepen your understanding.

Course Schedule

Session Contents
1 Basics of Biology (1): History of life through the time and the birth of the first human being
2 Basics of Biology (2): History of biological science and meaning of studying biology in university.
3 What are senses? : Senses are the pipelines of information.
4 Sight (1): Animal visual system
5 Sight (2): English chemist John Dalton and color blindness
6 Sight (3): To see, to draw and to perceive. (Bring your pencil and eraser)
7 Sight (4): Heteroptics
8 Sight (5): Eye and Brain
9 Taste
10 Smell
11 Hearing
12 Design of the sound
13 Tactile perception and phantom limb sensation
14 What is Savant syndrome?
15 What is synaesthesis?


Students will be evaluated as following.

  • Reports (7 reports are to be assigned for assignments and each report accounts for 10 points each)
  • Attendance (Two quizzes are given within the lecture that accounts 15 points each.)

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Lecture Handouts

Lecture handout is available but only in Japanese.

Section 1 Reference material (PDF, 198KB)

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Page last updated March 16, 2009

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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