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The process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system receive stimulus from the environment.

The process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events.

What if we could sense everything?

Life would hurt. So we can only take in a window of what is out there.
This is the study of psychophysics: relationship between physical stimuli and our psychological experiences to them.

Absolute Threshold
For a specific type of sensory input, it is the minimum amount of stimulation that an organism can detect.

*The minimum stimulation needed to detect a stimulus 50% of the time.

Difference Threshold
• The minimum difference that a person can detect between two stimuli. • Also known as JND - Just Noticeable Difference

• We have a very sensitive absolute threshold for vision, only 3 photons on single receptor across a moment of time will trigger a detection. • Our other modalities are sensitive, though chemically we have nothing over sharks • Sharks can detect a single drop of blood in thousands of gallons of water whereas we can taste a teaspoon of sugar in only 2 gallons.

Weber’s Law
The idea that, to perceive a difference between 2 stimuli, they must differ by a constant percentage; not a constant amount.

Example: •Weber found that the JND between 2 weights was approximately proportional to the mass of the weights. •Thus, if 105 g can be distinguished from 100 g, the JND is 5 g. •If the mass is doubled, the differential threshold also doubles to 10 g, so that 210 g can be distinguished from 200 g.

Weber’s Law Experiment
Get students to form into groups. • • • Give each group two envelopes and ask them to put one 20c piece in one envelope and two 20c pieces in the other. Invite each member of the group to hold both envelopes, one in each hand. They should be able to easily distinguish which is the heavier envelope. Now ask for a volunteer in each group to take off their shoes (or use two textbooks if they don’t want to take off their shoes). Get the students to put one envelope in each shoe or each textbook. Now if they hold one shoe/textbook in each hand they will find that it is no longer easy to say which is heavier. Because the shoes weigh more, the difference between the shoes must be greater for us to notice the difference. Weber’s law: Difference thresholds grow with the magnitude of the stimulus, because the difference is a percentage of the magnitude of the stimulus, not a constant amount. Ask students for examples of Weber's principle in their everyday life

• •

Signal Detection Theory Predicts how we detect a stimulus amid other stimuli. Assumes that we do not have an absolute threshold. We detect stuff based on our experiences, motivations and fatigue level.

Subliminal Stimulation
Below one’s absolute threshold for conscious awareness.

Does this work?
Yes and No Slide studies showed some emotional reactivity (called priming a response). The effects are subtle and fleeting.

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Sensory Adaptation
Diminished sensitivity as a result of constant stimulation.

We don't really detect physical energy Our senses are more evolved to detect changes in physical energy As such, if there are no changes in our physical environment, we adapt to the static energy levels and cease to notice them, This is sensory adaptation.

We do not perceive the world how it really is, but as it is useful for us to perceive it.

Selective Attention
The focusing of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus.

An example of selective attention is:
Cocktail Part Effect ability to listen to one voice among many.

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