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Lecture 3

Sensation and Perception

Sensation and Perception


sensation the process by which our sense
organs receive information from the
environment
receptor cell - a specialized cell that
responds to a particular type of energy
(hair cell, rods and cones, taste cell, pain receptors,)

transduction - the process by which


physical energy is converted into coded
neural signals
perception - the brains interpretation of
sensory information so as to give it meaning

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Sensation & Perception Processes

Sensory Thresholds
!

In order for sensation to occur the physical energy


within a receptor cell must reach a minimum level of
intensity.

absolute threshold - The smallest amount of


stimulation that can be detected.

just-noticeable difference (jnd) - the smallest


change in stimulation that can be detected

Webers law-size of jnd proportional to size of


initial stimulus (the greater the stimulus, the
greater change is necessary to produce a jnd)

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JND
The

concept of Just Noticeable Difference


can be illustrated in Spot the Difference
Games.

Its

also used in marketing

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Subliminal Perception
!

The concept of absolute threshold implies that it is


possible to present stimuli below the level of
awareness--subliminally.
Research suggests that under controlled laboratory
settings, the presentation of subliminal stimuli may
have a subtle effect on behavior.

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The Eye
!

Light enters the eye through the cornea, passes


through the pupil, and is focused by the lens onto the
retina.

Components:
Cornea:

where light enters the eye


Lens: focuses the light rays on the retina
Iris: colored ring of muscle, constricts or dilates via
amount of light
Pupil: regulates amount of light entering the eye
retina - the lining of the eye containing receptor
cells that are sensitive to light
Fovea- on the retina; the center
of visual field

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Light enters the eye through the cornea, passes through


the pupil, and is focused by the lens onto the retina.

The Receptor Cells


!

Two types of receptor cells in the retina are sensitive


to electromagnetic energy (rods and cones).

rods

-responsible for night vision


-perception of brightness
-more rods than cones
-not in fovea
cones

-responsible for color vision


-very useful in daylight
-mainly in fovea
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The eye is sensitive only to a very small segment of the


spectrum, known as visible light.

wavelengths - the different energies represented in the


electromagnetic spectrum
Wavelength of visible light determines color
Longer = red / shorter = violet
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Vision
The Retina
The rear
of the eye
where
rods and
cones
convert
light into
neural
impulses.

Adaptation

Our eyes adjust to different levels of


stimulation based on changes in the sensitivity
of rods and cones.
dark adaptation - increased sensitivity of
rods and cones in darkness
light adaptation - decreased sensitivity of
rods and cones in bright light
!

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The Retina and the Brain:


Visual Information Processing
Light rods and cones neural
signals bipolar cells ganglion cells
optic nerve optic chiasm
opposite half brain optic pathways
occipital lobe
Optic chiasm- here optic fibers cross
to the opposite side of the brain
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Color Vision
!

Our perception of color depends on the


wavelength of light entering the eyes.

hues

- the aspects of color that correspond to


names such as red, green, and blue

saturation

- the vividness or richness of a hue


(max. saturation has no gray)

brightness

(lightness)-how much white or


black is in the color

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Vision
Trichromatic Theory
T. Young & H. von
Helmholtz both proposed
that the eye detects 3
primary colors: red,
blue, & green.
All other colors can be
derived by combining
these three.
Unanswered: why cant
we see yellowish-blue?

opponent-process theory

Herings theory of color vision holds that


three pairs of color receptors (yellowblue,
redgreen, blackwhite) respond to
determine the color you experience

The

opponent-process theory explains the


experience of color afterimages.

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Afterimage

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Hearing

Sound
!

The experience of sound depends on the


physical properties of sound waves.

sound

- a psychological experience created by


the brain in response to changes in air pressure
that are received by the auditory system

sound

waves - changes in pressure caused


when molecules of air or fluid collide with one
another and then move apart again

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reserved
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! Properties

of sound waves

frequency

- the number of cycles per second in a


wave; in sound (how fast).
Determines the pitch (how high or how low the
sound is)
measured in hertz (Hz)

amplitude

big)

- the magnitude of a wave; in sound; (how

Determines

loudness

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! Properties

of sound

Pitch-

auditory experience corresponding primarily


to frequency of sound vibrations, resulting in a higher
or lower tone; (how low or how high)

Loudness-how

loud

- measured in decibels (dB)

Timbre-

quality or texture of sound (e.g. the same


note played on the piano or a guitar sounds different)

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The Ear
Outer

Ear:

-Pinna
-Ear canal
-Ear drum

Middle

Ear:

-Hammer
-Anvil
-Stirrup

Inner

3 bones

Ear:

-Oval Window
-cochlea

-Basilar membrane
-organ of Corti

-auditory nerve
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The human ear

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cochlea

The Ear

- part of the inner ear containing fluid


that vibrates, which in turn causes the basilar
membrane to vibrate
basilar membrane - vibrating membrane in the
cochlea of the inner ear; it contains sense
receptors for sound
oval window - membrane across the opening
between the middle ear and inner ear that
conducts vibrations to the cochlea
auditory nerve - the bundle of axons that carries
signals from each ear to the brain
organ of Corti - structure on the surface of the
basilar membrane that contains the receptor
cells for hearing
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The Inner Ear

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Theories of Hearing
place

theory - theory that pitch is


determined by the location of greatest
vibration on the basilar membrane

(high frequencies =vibration of basilar m. near the oval


window)
frequency

theory - theory that pitch is


determined by the frequency with which
hair cells in the cochlea fire

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Auditory Localization

The ability to judge from


which direction a sound is
coming

Sounds from different


directions are not identical as
they arrive at left and right
ears.
The brain calculates a
sounds location by using
differences in timing and
intensity

Smell
!

Smell is a chemical sense that occurs when


odor molecules in the air reach the
olfactory receptors in the nose.

olfactory

bulb - the smell center in the

brain
pheromones - chemicals that communicate
information to other organisms through
smell

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Taste
Taste

is a chemical sense.
Sour, bitter, sweet, salty, umami
taste

buds - structures on the tip, sides, and back of


tongue that contain the receptor cells for taste
Taste buds release a neurotransmitter that causes
adjacent neurons to fire sending nerve impulses to
the parietal lobe and limbic system

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Perception
!

Sensation involves the experience of the


brain receiving raw data from the sensory
receptors in the different senses.
Perception involves the brain organizing and
interpreting this raw data or giving it
meaning.

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Perception
Perceptual

Organization
Perceptual Constancies
Depth and Dimension
The World of Illusions

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Perception Organization
Perception transforms sensations into
meaningful wholes
-We look for patterns
-we tend to create a complete perception by
mentally filling in the missing information
-Our perception is influenced by what we
know and what we expect to see

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Copyright
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2010
2010 Pearson
Pearson Education,
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Inc. All
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reserved

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Perceptual Organization
!

Gestalt psychologists explain that the


perceptual process involves distinguishing
between figures from the ground against which
they appear.
Reversible figures demonstrate that the same
visual stimulus can result in very different
perceptions

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Figure-Ground

Both interpretations are possible but not at


the same time.
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Figure-Ground

One of the stimuli must be the ground


against which the figure is perceived.
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Gestalt Principles of
Perceptual Organization
Proximity
Similarity
Closure
Continuity

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Gestalt Principle of Proximity


When objects are close to one another,
we tend to perceive them together rather
than separately

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Gestalt Principle of Similarity


Objects that are of a similar color, size,
or shape are usually perceived as part of
a pattern

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Gestalt Principle of Closure


We tend to see complete objects even
when part of the information is missing.
We overlook incompleteness

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Gestalt Principle of Continuity


Items that continue a pattern or
direction tend to be grouped together as
part of the pattern

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Gestalt Principles of Perceptual Organization

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Perceptual Constancies
perceptual

constancy - a tendency to perceive


objects as stable and unchanging despite changes
in sensory stimulation

we see objects as essentially the same regardless


of differences in viewing angle, distance, lighting,
and so forth
size

constancy
shape constancy
color constancy
brightness constancy

help us better to understand and relate to the


world
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Size Constancies
We see objects as the same size regardless
of the distance from which we view them

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Shape Constancies
We see objects as the same shape no
matter what angle we view them from

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Color Constancies
We tend to perceive familiar objects as retaining
their color despite changes in sensory information

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Brightness Constancies
We perceive brightness as the same, even
though the amount of light reaching the
retina changes

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Memory and
experience also
help perceptual
constancy.
Our focus on shape
of head, hair, and
context make it
appear that Al Gore
is present in the
photo, rather than
Clintons face
superimposed over
Gores

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Perception of Distance and


Depth
There are two types of visual cues we use
to determine distance and depth.
monocular cues - visual cues requiring the
use of one eye
binocular cues - visual cues requiring the
use of both eyes
!

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Monocular Cues
interposition occurs when one object
partially blocks a second object. The first
object is perceived as being closer.

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Monocular Cues
linear perspective - two parallel lines that
extend into the distance seem to come
together at the horizon.

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Monocular Cues
aerial perspective - more distant objects
are likely to appear hazy and blurred.

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Monocular Cues
elevation - the higher on the horizontal plane
an object is, the farther away it appears.

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stereoscopic

vision - combination of two retinal


images to give a three-dimensional perceptual
experience

We

see the same scene with both eyes but in a


slightly different way

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Binocular Cues
retinal

disparity - binocular distance cue


based on the difference between the images
cast on the two retinas when both eyes are
focused on the same object

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Binocular Cues
convergence - is when the eyes turn inward
to look at an object close up. The closer the
object, the more the eye muscles tense to
turn the eyes inward. Information sent from
the eye muscles to the brain helps to
determine the distance to the object

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Perception of Movement
!

Perception of movement is a complex


process that involves the integration of
visual messages from the retina and
messages from the muscles around the
eyes as they follow movement.
Also, we must distinguish between real
movement-the physical displacement of an
object and apparent movement-the
perception of movement in objects that
are actually standing still.

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Perception of Real Movements


Perception of movements depends on:
-movement of images across the retina
-Messages from the muscles around the
eyes as they shift to follow a moving
object
- A change in the position of objects in
relation to their background
!

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! apparent movement:
autokinetic illusion - the perception that a single
stationary object is actually moving
Absence of visual cues around an object (darkness)
object will appear to move
e.g.

observing a small spot of light in a dark room;

Many

sightings of UFOs have also been attributed to


the autokinetic effect's action on looking at stars or
planets.

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apparent movement:

stroboscopic

motion - apparent movement


that results from flashing a series of still
pictures in rapid succession, as in a motion
picture

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apparent movement:

phi

phenomenon - apparent movement caused


by flashing lights in sequence, as on theater
marquees

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Visual Illusions
perceptual

illusions - inaccurate or impossible


perceptions that occur when a stimulus or object
contains false or misleading cues

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Observer Characteristics
!

Many personal factors influence perceptions:


Motivation

and emotion

Values
Expectations
Cognitive

style
Experience and culture
Personality

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2010
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