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Chapter 4: Sensation

and Perception
Lecture 6 & 7

Learning Outcomes
Define and differentiate between sensation and
Identify the parts of the eye, describe the
properties of light and the theories of color

Learning Outcomes
Describe how visual perception is organized.
Identify the parts of the ear; explain the sense of

Learning Outcomes
Describe the chemical senses.
Identify the skin senses and theoretical
explanations for pain.

Learning Outcomes
Describe the kinesthetic and vestibular senses.
Explain why psychologists are skeptical about
extra sensory perception.

Sensation and Perception

What are Sensation and Perception?

I have perfect vision Heather Sellers has problem with her perception.
She cannot recognize faces-prosopagnosia (face blindness)
In college, on a date at the Spaghetti Station, I returned from the bathroom
and plunked myself down in the wrong booth, facing the wrong man. I
remained unaware he was not my date even as my date (a stranger to
me) accosted Wrong Booth Guy, and then stormed out of the Station. I
cant distinguish actors in movies and on TV. I do not recognize myself in
photos or video. I cant recognize my stepsons in the soccer pick-up line;
I failed to determine which husband was mine at a party, in the mall, at
the market
This curious mix of perfect vision and face blindness illustrates the distinction between
sensation and perception.

1. What are Sensation and Perception?

Her Sensation-the stimulation of sensory receptors
and transmission of sensory information to the
central nervous system, is normal.
Her Perception- the process by which sensations
are organized and interpreted to form an inner
representation of the world, is almost normal.
She recognizes people from their hair, etc., but not

2. Absolute Threshold
Weakest amount of a stimulus that can be
distinguished from no stimulus at all
Detected 50% of the time

2. Absolute Threshold
Weakest amount of a stimulus that can be
distinguished from no stimulus at all
Detected 50% of the time

3. Difference Threshold
Minimum difference in magnitude of two stimuli required
to tell them apart
Detected 50% of the time
Webers constant
Standard of difference
- Light 2% of intensity
- Weight 2% of weight
- Sound one-third of 1% change in pitch (frequency)
-Taste 20% difference in saltiness

4. Influences on Perception
Stimulus characteristics and psychological factors
interact to influence whether a stimulus is
Psychological factors such as learning,
motivation, and psychological states (attention)
Perceptual set- what we expect to perceive
- Rosenhan et al., (1973)
Attention (Inattentional blindness)
Social perception

5. Transduction & Adaptation

Sensory receptorsdetect and respond to
one type of sensory
stimuli- light, smell,
sensory receptors
convert the sensory
stimulation into neural

After a time, the

sensory receptors
grow accustomed to
constant, unchanging
levels of stimulussights, smell, etc.- we
notice it less & lessadaptation

6. Vision
Spectrum of electromagnetic energy
Vary in wavelength
Human eyes can perceive only a very thin
band of electromagnetic waves, known as
the visible spectrum (400 700nanometers)
Within visible light, color is determined by

The Visible Spectrum

The Eye
Light enters through a narrow opening
Cornea transparent eye cover
Iris muscle; colored part of the eye
Pupil opening in the iris
Sensitive to light and emotion

Transmission of Light Through the Eye


8. The Eye
Light Sensitive Surface
Rods, Cones, Bipolar and ganglion cells
Optic Nerve
Axons of ganglion neurons form optic nerve
Conducts sensory input to brain (occipital lobe)

Anatomy of the Eye


After clicking Play Video

use your mouse to manipulate this active figure.

9. Rods and Cones

Most densely packed in center of retina (fovea)
Provide color vision, fine details
Provide vision in black and white
More sensitive to dim light than cones

10. Visual Acuity

Greatest in the fovea
Blind spot (demonstration/handouts)
Point in retina where ganglion cells converge
Nearsightedness, image in front of retina

11. Light Adaptation

Dark adaptation
Process of adjusting to lower lighting
Cones reach maximum adaptation in about
10 minutes
Rods continue to adapt up to 45 minutes
Adaptation to bright light
Process occurs within a minute or so

Perceptual Dimensions of Color

Persistent sensations of color are followed by
perception of the complementary color when
the first color is removed

12. Theories of Color

Trichromatic Theory
Three types of cones

Sensitive to red,
green, or blue
Three types of color

Red-green, blueyellow, and lightdark

13.Color Blindness
Normal color vision
Totally color blind
Partial color blindness
Discriminate between two colors (red & green, or blue &yellow)
More common in males (sex linked trait)

Plates from a Test for Color Blindness

Visual Perception
Lecture 7

1. Visual Perception
Process used to organize sensory impressions
caused by the light that strikes our eyes
Sensation is a mechanical process
Perception is an active process
Involves experience, expectations and

1. Visual Perception
Process used to organize sensory impressions
caused by the light that strikes our eyes
Sensation is a mechanical process
Perception is an active process
Involves experience, expectations and

1. Visual Perception
Process used to organize sensory impressions
caused by the light that strikes our eyes
Sensation is a mechanical process
Perception is an active process
Involves experience, expectations and

2. Perceptual Organization
Figure Ground Perception
Ambiguous, unstable figures,

we shift back & forth

Gestalt Rules for Perceptual Organization

3. Gestalt Rules for Perceptual Organization

Common Fate
Elements moving together are grouped together (runners)
Fit bits of information into familiar patterns;
Perception of a complete figure, even when there are
gaps in sensory information
Nearness of objects
Similarity of objects
Series of points having unity

4. Perception of Motion
(mini class discussion)

Visual perception of motion is based on change

of position relative to other objects
Illusions of movement
Stroboscopic motion (class discussion, how do
we know that a train moves?)

5. Depth Perception
Monocular Cues

Texture gradient
Motion parallax

Binocular Cues
Retinal disparity

6. Perceptual Constancies
Acquired through experience; creates stability
Size Constancy (video)
Color Constancy
Brightness Constancy
Shape Constancy

Size Constancy


7. Visual Illusions
Hering-Hemlholtz Illusion
Perceive drawing as three-dimensional
Mller-Lyer Illusion
Interpret length of lines based on experience


8. Sound
Sound waves require a medium; air or water
Sound waves compress and expand molecules of
the medium, creating vibrations
A single cycle of compression and expansion is
one wave of sound
Human ear is sensitive to sound waves with
frequencies of 20 to 20,000 cycles per second

9. Pitch and Loudness

Frequency (# of cycles per second)
Expressed in hertz (Hz)
Pitch of womens voice is higher than mens
Height (amplitude) of sound waves
Expressed in decibels (dB)

Sound Waves of Various Frequencies

and Amplitudes

Decibel Ratings of Familiar Sounds

10.The Ear
Shaped and structured to
capture sound waves,
vibrate in sympathy with them, and
transmit auditory information to the brain
Three parts: outer, middle & inner ear.

The Human Ear

11.Parts of the Ear

Outer Ear
Funnels sound waves to the eardrum
Middle Ear
Eardrum, hammer, anvil and stirrup
Acts as an amplifier
Oval window Round window-balances the

12. Parts of the Ear

Inner Ear
Cochlea (3 chambers-two membrane)
Basilar membrane
Organ of Corti- commend post- 25,000 hair cells
Auditory nerve- temporal lobes of cerebral cortex

13. Locating Sounds

Loudness and sequence in which sounds reach
the ear provide cues
May turn head to clarify information

Try at home: Virtual Barber Shop (requires

headphones to be appreciated fully).
Check it out at

14. Perception of Loudness and Pitch

Related to number of receptor neurons on the
organ of Corti
Sounds are perceived as louder when more
sensory neurons fire

15. Perception of Loudness and Pitch

Place theory
Pitch is sensed according to place that vibrates
Frequency theory
Pitch perceived on stimulation of impulses that
match the frequency of the sound
Both theories work together

16. Deafness
Conductive deafness
Damage to middle ear
Hearing aids can help
Sensorineural deafness
Damage to inner ear or auditory nerve
Cochlear implants may help with damage to
inner ear, but not auditory nerve

The Chemical Senses:

Smell and Taste

Odors trigger receptor neurons in olfactory
Odors are sample molecules of substances in
the air
Sensory information about odors is sent to the
brain through the olfactory nerve
Odor contributes to flavor of foods

Taste is sensed through taste cells
Receptor neurons on taste buds
Four primary taste qualities
Sweet, sour, salty and bitter
Umami (fifth basic taste) savory
Flavor of food depends on odor, texture,
temperature and taste
Individuals have taste sensitivities

The Skin Senses

Touch and Pressure

Sensory receptors in skin fire when skin surface
is touched
Active touching
Some areas of the body are more sensitive
Nerve endings are more densely packed
More sensory cortex is devoted to perception
of sensations

Receptors are located just beneath the skin
Skin temperature increases receptors for
warmth fire
Skin temperature decreases receptors for
cold fire
Sensations for temperature are relative

Nociceptors in skin are stimulated
Pain is usually sharpest where nerve endings
are densely packed
Pain can be felt deep within body
No nerve endings for pain in the brain

Facilitate transmission of pain message
Heighten circulation to injured area
Pain-relieving drugs inhibit production of
Emotional response and response to stress
affect degree of pain

Phantom Limb Pain

2 out of 3 combat veterans with amputated limbs
report phantom limb pain
May involve activation of nerves in the stump
of missing limb
May also involve reorganization of motor and
somatosensory cortex

Gate Theory of Pain

Nervous system can only process a limited
amount of stimulation
Rubbing the pained area competes for neural
Closes the gate on pain messages to the

Ancient Chinese method of pain control
Research shows it stimulates nerves to the
hypothalamus releasing endorphins
Endorphins are similar in structure and effect
to morphine

Kinesthesis and the

Vestibular Sense

Sense that informs you about the position and
motion of your body
Sensory information is sent to the brain from
sensory organs in joints, tendons and muscles

Vestibular System
Housed mainly in semicircular canals in your ears
Monitor your bodys motion and position in
relation to gravity

ESP: Is There Perception

Without Sensation?

Extrasensory Perception - ESP

Perception through means other than sensory

Existence of ESP
Ganzfield Procedure
Method for studying the existence of ESP
No reliable evidence for existence of ESP

Beyond the Book

Video Connections: The Ames Room

Based on what you learn from the video about
the Ames Room, how do visual artists use
illusions to create a sense of depth in twodimensional paintings?

The Ames Room


Video Connections: The Ames Room

Have you ever been surprised at how large the
moon looks on the horizon, resting atop
buildings or trees in the distance? How do you
explain why it looks larger under these
circumstances than when it is high in the sky?
Can we rely on our past experience of rooms to
make sense of the Ames Room? Why or why

Virtual Reality
Perception of events that are fed directly into the
sense via electronic technology
Computer generated images used to overcome