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Published by T-Bone02135
MIT DELVE AP Psychology Course Lecture 5 Notes
MIT DELVE AP Psychology Course Lecture 5 Notes

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Published by: T-Bone02135 on Mar 05, 2009
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Lecture 5: Sensation and Perception
We can divide thresholds into detection thresholds and discrimination thresholds. Detection is the act of sensing a stimulus. In some psychophysics experiments, researchers determine the smallest amount of sound,pressure, taste, or other stimuli that an individual can detect. The level of stimulation that is right on theperceptual borderline is known as the
absolute threshold
. At the absolute threshold we cannot detectlower levels of stimuli but we can detect higher levels. Another approach to measuring detection thresholdsinvolves
signal detection theory (SDT)
. This theory takes into consideration that there are four possibleoutcomes on each trial in a detection experiment: the stimulus is either present or not and the participantsrespond that they can detect a signal or they cannot. This allows for four possibilities: a hit, a miss, a falsealarm, or a correct rejection. SDT takes into account response bias, moods, feelings, and decision-makingstrategies that affect our likelihood of making a given response.Discrimination threshold is the ability to distinguish the difference between two stimuli. The minimumamount of distance between two stimuli that can be detected as distinct is called the
just noticeabledifference (JND)
or difference threshold. Ernst Weber noticed that changes in stimuli at low levels aremuch easier to notice than changes in stimuli at high levels. The observation that the JND is a proportionof stimulus intensity is called
Weber’s law
Humans are very visual animals... we use our sense of sight to interpret much of the world around us. Whatwe see is called light. However, what we see is really only a small part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.Humans can see only the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation between about 380 and 760 nanometers...this is light. Our eyes do not have detectors for wavelengths of energy less than 380 or greater than 760nanometers, so we cannot see other types of energy such as gamma or radio waves. Rattlesnakes, however,can detect electromagnetic radiation in the infrared range and use this ability to find prey.First, some specifics about the eye...the human eye is about 2.5 cm in length and weighs about 7 grams.Light passes through the cornea, pupil and lens before hitting the retina. The iris is a muscle that controlsthe size of the pupil and therefore, the amount of light that enters the eye. Also, the color of your eyes isdetermined by the iris.The vitreous or vitreous humor is a clear gel that provides constant pressure to maintain the shape of theeye. The retina is the area of the eye that contains the receptors (rods and cones) that respond to light.The receptors respond to light by generating electrical impulses that travel out of the eye through the opticnerve to the brain.2
Parts of the Eye
Aqueous Humor
- Clear, watery fluid found in the anterior chamber of the eye.
- Layer of blood vessels that nourish the eye; also, because of the high melanocytes content, thechoroid acts as a light-absorbing layer.
- Transparent tissue covering the front of the eye. Does not have any blood vessels; does havenerves.
- Circular band of muscles that controls the size of the pupil. The pigmentation of the iris gives ”color”to the eye. Blue eyes have the least amount of pigment; brown eyes have the most.
- Transparent tissue that bends light passing through the eye. To focus light, the lens can changeshape by bending.
- Hole in the center of the eye where light passes through.
- Layer of tissue on the back portion of the eye that contains cells responsive to light (photoreceptors)
- Photoreceptors responsive in low light conditions.
- Photoreceptors responsive to color and in bright conditions.
- Protect coating around the posterior five-sixths of the eyeball
Vitreous Humor
- Clear, jelly-like fluid found in the back portion of the eye. Maintains shape of the eye.3

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