You are on page 1of 10

GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY CHAPTER IV: The Sensory Systems The Sensory Process -The senses collect information about our

surroundings by detecting forms of energy (stimuli) such as sound, light, heat, pressure and temperature. Our five primary senses : 1. sight/vision 2. hearing/audition 3. taste/gustation 4. smell/olfaction 5. touch/taction Steps in the sensory process: 1. Accessory structures modify the stimuli or energies coming from objects in the person’s environment 2. Transduction occurs and it is the process by which the incoming energy is converted into a neural impulse by specialized cells in the receptors. 3. Information is transmitted to the brain and the person becomes aware of the presence of the stimulus and this is the sensation proper. 4. The brain then gives meaning or interprets the sensation received and it results in perception. Sensation and Perception Sensations – meaningless bits of information that result when the brain process electrical signals that come from the sense organs. (e.g. color, light, touch) Perceptions – meaningful sensory experiences that result after the brain combines hundreds of sensation; in other words, it is sensation plus meaning. (e.g. color + object)

. Human beings can detect only light waves with wavelengths between 380nm and 760nm. light bulbs and other hot objects. The light waves we perceive are either radiant or reflected. Reflected energy – light waves strike an object and then bounce off. This range of stimuli is known as the visible spectrum. Differential threshold – the smallest amount of energy increase or decrease in an existing stimulus for a person to be able to detect a just noticeable difference (JND). Hue or color – the psychological term for or counterpart of wavelength. the rods and cones. VISION – The Visual Stimulus Vision involves the reception of electromagnetic waves by the visual receptors.Thresholds Absolute threshold – the minimum amount of physical energy required for a stimulus to be sensed. We measure the length of light in waves or wavelength in nanometers (nm). Radiant energy – emitted directly by an object and the only sources of which are the sun. Amplitude – refers to the intensity of light. Bright lights have large amplitudes. Saturation – refers to the “trueness” or purity of the colors we perceive. which billionths of a meter. Two factors are important in determining thresholds: (a) the condition under which the stimulus was perceived and (b) the nature of the perceiver.

The light waves then enter an open area called the anterior chamber and pass through the aqueous humor which is a clear jelly-like fluid that helps supply the nourishment to the structures of the eye. The light waves strike the cornea which is a protective transparent membrane covering the front of the eye. Rods – cannot distinguish colors but more sensitive to light than the cones. the neural message is transmitted back out through four other layers of the retina to the ganglion cells. The light waves then enter a second. 2. 6. allows dark adaptation (our increasing ability to see in the dark as time passes). Blind spot – part of the optic nerve where no receptors or rods and cones are found. larger open space called the posterior chamber. The information is received by the occipital lobe of the cortex where higher-level processing begins. a process called accommodation. the rods and cones. whose axons come together to form the optic nerve that carry information to the higher centers of the brain. Another jellylike clear fluid that provides nourishment to the eye. VISION – Theories of Color Vision Trichromatic Theory proposed by Thomas Young and modified by Hermann von Helmholtz . The elastic lens can change its shape to focus the visual image. the vitreous humor. Once the receptors have been activated.VISION – The Visual System Stages of visual processing: 1. The part of the image that falls in this area is not seen because of the absence of receptors. The light waves are focused by the lens into an image on the retina at the back of the eye. 3. The light passes through the lens. 100 million in each eye. which convert light energy into a neural impulse. 5. 8. The retina is composed of rods and cones which convert light energy into an electrical brain impulse. about 6. fills this space. 7. 4.5 million in each eye. A colored membrane called the iris changes its shape to regulate the size of the pupil thereby also regulating the amount of light taken in. The light waves then are funneled through the opening called the pupil. Fovea – center of the retina wherein cones that produce the greatest visual acuity or sharpness are found. Cones – operate best in bright light and produce color sensations. The optic nerves from each eye join at the optic chiasm. The retina contains the true visual receptors.

VISION – Visual Problems    Hyperopia – difficulty focusing on nearby objects.states that there are three types of cones. Timbre – refers to the quality of sound. Astigmatism – visual field becomes out of focus or blurred because the cornea or lens is misshapen. Pitch – refers to the highness or lowness of a tone or sound. Opponent-process Theory proposed by Ewald Hering states that the cones are arranged in pairs: red-green and blue-yellow. and activation of one member of a pair directly inhibits the operation of the other. color afterimage – perception of a color that is not really present. Psychological Dimensions of Sound Loudness – is described in units called decibels. farsightedness. Myopia – difficulty focusing on distant or far objects. green and blue. Presbyopia – the lens become less flexible and less able to accommodate resulting in farsightedness due to aging. Amplitude – refers to the intensity of the sound which tells how much energy it contains. it happens after viewing the opposite or complementary color. Color blindness – a vision defect where the retinal cones contain only a maximum of two of the three possible color-sensitive pigments. each responding to one of the three primary colors: red. Frequency – refers to the number of waves or cycles per second and it corresponds to the pitch of a sound. the person has difficulties distinguishing colors. nearsightedness. This is described in a unit called hertz (one cycle per second is 1 hertz). .   AUDITION – The Hearing Stimulus Sound is the stimulus for audition and it is created when objects vibrate.

5. The sound waves then strike the eardrum or tympanic membrane and cause it to move. beginning with the pinna. anvil (incus) and stirrup (stapes). The higher the amplitude of a sound wave. The movement of the eardrum causes vibrations in the three bony ossicles of the middle ear: hammer (malleus). AUDITION – The Pathway for Hearing Stages of auditory processing: 1. 3. the higher the pitch of the sound. The sound vibrations pass through the oval window. The movements caused by the stirrup in the oval window set in motion a fluid located in the cochlea. a stucture connecting the middle ear to the snailshaped cochlea of the inner ear. 4. 2. the louder the sound.The higher the frequency of sound waves. and are funneled down through the auditory canal. . Sound waves are collected by the outer ear. which in turn produces movement in the basilar membrane.

The nerve impulse travels to the medulla. photo-developing chemicals and hairdressing mixtures can also cause partial or total loss of smell. They are also called the primitive senses because these are the senses that animals heavily depend on. The hair cells. . 9. The motions in the basilar membrane cause the organ of Corti to rise and fall. 7. Central deafness – deafness resulting from disease and tumors in the auditory pathways and auditory area of the brain. When the organ of Corti moves upward. The stimuli for smell are the gaseous molecules carried in the air. requires cochlear transplant or surgery to treat. then to the thalamus. Tinnitus – hair cells of the inner ear are damaged resulting to ringing sensation after exposure to a loud sound. 10. Anosmia – loss of sense of smell that can happen due to infections. The Chemical Senses: Smell and Taste The sense of smell and taste are called chemical senses because they are the body senses that respond to chemical molecules. the hair cells that project from it brush against the tectorial membrane situated above it. until it finally reaches the temporal lobe of the cortex for processing. except for emergency or life-threatening situations like gas leak. OLFACTION – The Sense of Smell The ability to sense odors is not crucial to our survival. allergies and blows to the head. smoke and toxic sprays. Exposure to chemicals like ammonia.6. or the auditory receptors. Hearing aids can treat this. convert sound waves to electrical brain impulses. There is a strong relationship between smell and emotional memory. occurring when the bony ossicles are damaged. requires cochlear transplant or surgery to treat. The converted auditory signals will be sent to the brain through the auditory nerves. Sensorineural deafness – hair cells are damaged resulting to the blocking of auditory messages from reaching the brain. AUDITION – Hearing Disorders Conduction deafness – refers to poor transfer of sounds from the eardrum to the inner ear. 8.

kinesthesis and vestibular sense. Astringent – dry sensation in the mouth or taste produced by tannins (e. . As food is chewed. The Somatosensory Systems Certain senses are not located in a specific organ. Two additional taste sensations: Umami – savory taste produced by certain proteins and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Papillae – little protrusions on the tongue lined by taste buds.g. The nerve fibers extend to the amygdala (part of the limbic system) and then travel to the thalamus and hypothalamus.OLFACTION – The Pathway for Smell Stages of olfactory processing: 1. Flavor – combination or interaction of the sense of taste and smell. The signal passes through the olfactory nerve. Odor molecules are received by the olfactory bulb and then converted into electrical impulses to be sent to the brain. sour and bitter. Odor molecules can strike the olfactory or smell receptors either by passing directly through the nostrils or by rising through an opening in the palate at the back of the mouth. GUSTATION – The Sense of Taste The stimuli for the sense of taste are soluble substances. red wine and teas). Odor molecules bind to the olfactory receptors which has six to twelve hair-like projections called cilia. 5. These primary tastes are detected by the taste buds or the taste receptors which are located on the surface of the tongue and at other points inside the mouth. 3. salty. 4. There are at least four basic tastes: sweet. These are the somatic senses or the somatosensations which are spread throughout the body (Soma means body). 2. The last stop would be at the cerebral cortex wherein the information would be processed. the food molecules dissolve and bind to the taste buds where they set off nerve impulses to the brain. such as the eye or the ear. Included here are the skin senses.

SKIN SENSES Our skin receptors produce at least five different sensations: light touch. This can be totally controlled by cognitive and emotional factors. increase brainwave patterns related to alertness and improve performance in math. pressure. Pleasure and Pain There are two ways to stimulate the sense of touch: 1. pain. Somatosensory impulses travel up the spinal cord and the thalamus. cold and warmth. The body parts with the greatest sensitivity to touch are the fingertips. warm fibers increase their signal firing rates when the temperature changes in the range of 35° to 45 °C while cold fibers respond to a broad range of cool temperatures. Touch is an active sense used to get specific information. Free nerve endings = for temperature and pain. Pleasure Massage can reduce anxiety. Skin receptors: Meissner’s corpuscles = for light touch Merkel’s disks = activated by the steady pressure of small objects Ruffini’s endings = activated by the pressure of larger objects and stretching of the skin. . Children with asthma who undergo massage had lower pain thresholds and lower stress hormone levels. The area of primary somatosensory cortex devoted to the fingertips is proportionally large. Then it is relayed to the somatosensory cortex located in the parietal lobe for higher-level processing. Pain This seems to be bad and non-pleasurable but it is important for survival. Pacinian corpuscles = very sensitive to touch especially to pressure and vibrations. Fingertip touch is the principal way to explore objects around us. No area in the cortex has yet been discovered to represent the sensation of pain. 2. Premature human infants gained weight 47% faster when given massage.

The vestibular system has neural connections to the cerebellum. become simple and fluid because. and about its general movements. Former boxer Ronald Niederman had this condition and used it to his advantage to win fights. the brain uses kinesthetic information automatically. KINESTHETIC SENSE Kinesthesis = the sense that provides information about where each part of the body is in relation to all the others. thereby sending brain signals.k. This is a very dangerous condition since the person has no way of understanding that his or her body is already being put in mortal danger. It is also known as the sense of balance. to the portion of the autonomic nervous system that affects the digestive system. Otolith organs – allows us to sense gravity and movement through space. Overstimulation of the vestibular system causes nausea and dizziness. these are fluid-filled sacs that contain crystals in a soft.a. Complex movement patterns. the information goes to the spinal cord and is sent to the thalamus. Proprioceptors = the receptors for kinesthetic information and they are found in the linings of the muscles. . a rare condition where a person cannot feel or has never felt physical pain. After the proprioceptors transform mechanical energy to neural signals. otherwise it would be impossible to develop any motor skill. filled with jelly-like fluid that moves as the head moves. congenital analgesia. gelatin-like mass. VESTIBULAR SENSE The vestibular sense tell the brain about the position of the head and the body. like athletics. tendons and joints. The vestibular system consists of the semicircular canals and otolith organs in the inner ear.Do You Want To Be Resistant To Physical Pain? Congenital insensitivity to pain – a. Semicircular canals – provides information about movement in all directions. causes hair cells in the inner ear to move. and to the muscles of the eye. We also depend on this sense to guide our movements. with practice. Then it goes to the cerebellum and eventually to the somatosensory cortex which are involved in smooth coordination of movements.

THANK YOU! . focus is on methods measuring sensations and sensitivities. refers to the relationship between physical stimuli. Psychophysics – coined by Gustav Theodor Fechner. and sensations and perceptions. Sensory adaptation – refers to a decrease in sensory response to a constant or unchanging stimulus.THE PRINCIPLE OF ADAPTATION Each of our senses is continuously active yet many sensory events never reach awareness.