Sensation and Perception

Chapter 6

Our Sensational Senses 

Defining sensation and perception The riddle of separate senses Measuring the senses Sensory adaptation Sensory overload

Defining Sensation and Perception 


The detection of physical energy emitted or reflected by physical objects. It occurs when energy in the external environment or the body stimulates receptors in the sense organs. The process by which the brain organizes and interprets sensory information. 


Ambiguous Figure  Colored surface can be either the outside front surface or the inside back surface  Cannot simultaneously be both  Brain can interpret the ambiguous cues two different ways .

.The Riddle of Separate Sensations  Sense receptors  Specialized cells that convert physical energy in the environment or the body to electrical energy that can be transmitted as nerve impulses to the brain.

Sensation & Perception Processes .

Doctrine of Specific Nerve Energies   Different sensory modalities exist because signals received by the sense organs stimulate different nerve pathways leading to different areas of the brain. Synthesia  A condition in which stimulation of one sense also evokes another. .

Measuring Senses    Absolute threshold Difference threshold Signal-detection theory .

.Absolute Threshold  The smallest quantity of physical energy that can be reliably detected by an observer.

Absolute Sensory Thresholds  Vision:  A single candle flame from 30 miles on a dark. clear night The tick of a watch from 20 feet in total quiet 1 drop of perfume in a 6-room apartment The wing of a bee on your cheek. Sugar in 2 gal. water     Hearing:  Smell:  Touch:  Taste:  . dropped from 1 cm 1 tsp.

Also called Just Noticeable Difference (JND).Difference Threshold   The smallest difference in stimulation that can be reliably detected by an observer when two stimuli are compared. .

Stimulus is Present Response: Hit ³Present´ Response: Miss ³Absent´ Stimulus is Absent False Alarm Correct Rejection .Signal-Detection Theory  A psychophysical theory that divides the detection of a sensory signal into a sensory process and a decision process.

Prevents us from having to continuously respond to unimportant information.Sensory Adaptation and Deprivation  Adaptation   The reduction or disappearance of sensory responsiveness when stimulation is unchanging or repetitious. The absence of normal levels of sensory stimulation.  Deprivation  .

Sensory Overload   Overstimulation of the senses. Can use selective attention to reduce sensory overload.  Selective attention  The focusing of attention on selected aspects of the environment and the blocking out of others. .

Vision      What we see An eye on the world Why the visual system is not a camera How we see colours Constructing the visual world .

Vividness or purity of colour. the visual experience related to the amount of light emitted from or reflected by an object.What We See  Hue  Visual experience specified by colour names and related to the wavelength of light.  Brightness   Saturation  . Lightness and luminance. the visual experience related to the complexity of light waves.

What We See    Hue Brightness Saturation .

Controls amount of light that gets into eye. Cornea  An Eye on the World Protects eye and bends light toward lens. Focuses on objects by changing shape. Widens or dilates to let in more light.  Lens   Iris   Pupil  .

Visual receptors that respond to dim light. Most humans have 3 types of cones.  Rods   Cones  . Visual receptors involved in colour vision. which contains the receptors for vision.An Eye on the World  Retina  Neural tissue lining the back of the eyeball¶s interior.

The Structures of the Retina .

  Some cortical cells respond to lines in specific orientations (e. bulls-eyes.g.  Feature-detectors  . faces).Why the Visual System is not a Camera  Much visual processing is done in the brain. Cells in the visual cortex that are sensitive to specific features of the environment. spirals.g. horizontal). Other cells in the cortex respond to other shapes (e..

Hubel & Wiesel¶s Experiment .

How We See Colours   Trichromatic theory Opponent process theory .

. & green  All other colours can be derived by combining these three.Trichromatic Theory  Young (1802) & von Helmholtz (1852) both proposed that the eye detects 3 primary colours:  red. blue.

and have a burst of activity when it is removed. Opponent-Process cells are inhibited by a colour.Opponent-Process Theory   A competing theory of colour vision. which assumes that the visual system treats pairs of colours as opposing or antagonistic. .

Afterimages .

Test of Colour Deficiency .

Constructing the Visual World     Form perception Depth and distance perception Visual constancies: When seeing is believing Visual illusions: When seeing is misleading .

.Form Perception  Gestalt principles describe the brain¶s organization of sensory building blocks into meaningful units and patterns.

 Similarity   Continuity   Closure  . Seeing lines that connect 1 to 2 and 3 to 4 in C.Figure and Ground  Proximity  Seeing 3 pair of lines in A. Seeing a horse in D. Seeing columns of orange and red dots in B.

 Convergence: Turning inward of the eyes. which occurs when they focus on a nearby object.Depth and Distance Perception  Binocular Cues: Visual cues to depth or distance that require the use of both eyes.  .  Retinal Disparity: The slight difference in lateral separation between two objects as seen by the left eye and the right eye.

.Depth and Distance Perception  Monocular Cues:  Visual cues to depth or distance that can be used by one eye alone.

as viewers assume it is A single peephole prevents using binocular depth cues .The Ames Room    A specially-built room that makes people seem to change size as they move around in it The room is not a rectangle.

Visual Constancies  The accurate perception of objects as stable or unchanged despite changes in the sensory patterns they produce.      Shape constancy Location constancy Size constancy Brightness constancy Colour constancy .

Shape Constancy  Even though these images cast shadows of different shapes. we still see the quarter as round .

.  Illusions provide hints about perceptual strategies.Visual Illusions  Illusions are valuable in understanding perception because they are systematic errors.  In the Muller-Lyer illusion (above) we tend to perceive the line on the right as slightly longer than the one on the left.

The Ponzo Illusion    Linear perspective provides context Side lines seem to converge Top line seems farther away  But the retinal images of the red lines are equal! .

.Fooling the Eye    The cats in (a) are the same size The diagonal lines in (b) are parallel You can create a ³floating fingertip frankfurter´ by holding hands as shown. 5-10´ in front of face.

Hearing    What we hear An ear on the world Constructing the auditory world .

The dimension of auditory experience related to the frequency of a pressure wave.What We Hear  Loudness  The dimension of auditory experience related to the intensity of a pressure wave.  Pitch   Timbre (pronounced ³TAM-bur´)  . The distinguishing quality of sound. the dimension of auditory experience related to the complexity of the pressure wave.

An Ear on the World .

.Auditory Localization  Sounds from different directions are not identical as they arrive at left and right ears    Loudness Timing Phase  The brain calculates a sound¶s location by using these differences.

Other Senses      Taste: savoury sensations Smell: The sense of scents Senses of the skin The mystery of pain The environment within .

Nests of taste-receptor cells. containing the taste buds (Singular: papilla).  Taste buds  .Taste: Savoury Sensations  Papillae  Knoblike elevations on the tongue.

magnified 75 times. .Taste Buds   Photograph of tongue surface (top). 10.000 taste buds line the tongue and mouth.  Taste receptors are down inside the ³bud´  Children have more taste buds than adults.

sour.Four Tastes  Four basic tastes  Salty.  Different people have different tastes based on:     Genetics Culture Learning Food attractiveness . bitter and sweet.

 Receptors on the roof of the nasal cavity detect these molecules.  Vapors can also enter through the mouth and pass into nasal cavity.Smell: The Sense of Scents  Airborne chemical molecules enter the nose and circulate through the nasal cavity. .

Olfactory System .

Sensitivity to Touch .

Gate-Control Theory of Pain 

Experience of pain depends (in part) on whether the pain impulse gets past neurological ³gate´ in the spinal cord and thus reaches the brain.

Neuromatrix Theory of Pain 

Theory that the matrix of neurons in the brain is capable of generating pain (and other sensations) in the absence of signals from sensory nerves.

The Environment Within 


The sense of body position and movement of body parts; also called kinesthesia. The sense of balance. Sense organs in the inner ear, which contribute to equilibrium by responding to rotation of the head. 


Semicircular Canals 

Perceptual Powers: Origins and Influences    Inborn abilities Critical periods Psychological and cultural Influences on perception .

with checkerboard underneath at different heights   The Visual Cliff Visual illusion of a cliff Baby can¶t fall   Mom stands across the gap Babies show increased attention over deep side at age 2 months. Glass surface. 1960) . but aren¶t afraid until about the age they can crawl (Gibson & Walk.

The Visual Cliff .

. When adults who have been blind since birth have vision restored. perception will be impaired. they may not see well Other senses such has hearing may be influenced similarly.Critical Periods    If infants miss out on experiences during a crucial period of time.

based on expectations. What we believe can affect what we perceive.  All are influenced by our culture.  Perceptual Set  A habitual way of perceiving. Expectations based on our previous experiences influence how we perceive the world. .Psychological and Cultural Influences on Perception     We are more likely to perceive something when we need it. such as fear. can influence perceptions of sensory information. Emotions.

Perceptual Set  What you see in the centre figures depends on the order in which you look at the figures:   If you scan from the left. see an old woman If you scan from the right. see a woman¶s figure .

Context Effects    The same physical stimulus can be interpreted differently We use other cues in the situation to resolve ambiguities Is this the letter B or the number 13? .

Puzzles of Perception   Subliminal Perception Extrasensory Perception: Reality or Illusion? .

Subliminal Perception  Perceiving without awareness    visual stimuli can affect your behaviour even when you are unaware that you saw it nonconscious processing also occurs in memory. and difficult to demonstrate and work best with simple stimuli . and decision making these effects are often small. thinking. however.

are presented above-threshold. or at a supraliminal level .Subliminal Perception  Perception versus Persuasion   there is no empirical research to support popular notions that subliminal persuasion has any effect on a person¶s behaviour persuasion works best when messages. in the form of advertising or self-help tapes.

Extrasensory Perception  Extrasensory Perception (ESP):   The ability to perceive something without ordinary sensory information This has not been scientifically demonstrated Telepathy ± Mind-to-mind communication Clairvoyance ± Perception of remote events Precognition ± Ability to see future events  Three types of ESP:    .

Most ESP studies produce negative findings and are not easily replicated.Parapsychology    The study of purported psychic phenomena such as ESP and mental telepathy. Persinger suggests that psychic phenomena are related to signs of temporal lobe epilepsy in otherwise neurologically normal individuals. .

Rhine conducted many experiments on ESP using stimuli such as these. Rhine believed that his evidence supported the existence of ESP. . but his findings were flawed. B.Parapsychology   J.

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