Sensory and Perception Assignment

By: Lizzie Forrester and Kaitlin Howard

What's the difference between sensation and perception?

"Sensation is defined as the process in which a sensory receptor is stimulated, producing nerve impulses that travel to the brain, which in turn interprets such impulses as a visual image, a sound, taste, odor, touch, or pain. Perception refers to the occurrence when the brain performs organization of information it obtains from the neural impulses, and then begins the process of translation and interpretation. It is a vital process that helps us rationalize or make sense of the information related to the physical stimulus" (Sincero).

Types of Processing

Bottom-up Processing: a process that simply moves in the opposite direction. The order of this processing goes from Sensory Information/ Body Response to Emotion then to Brain/ Thoughts/ Beliefs.

Top-down Processing: in this type of processing, your brain is active first. The order of the processing goes from Brain/Thoughts/Beliefs to emotion then to Sensory Information/ Body Response.

Scenario Time!

If you are looking at a painting in the museum have you ever wondered why the facial expressions in the painting look angry, or scared; what type of processing occurs?

Answer: Top-down Processing

Selective Attention

Selective attention is the act of focusing on one thing for a certain period of time, while simultaneously ignoring the other information that's around you. Driving requires selective attention, such as we need to pay attentions to the road so we must tune out having a conversation with someone or trying to text or eat. While you can still do two of these at the same time, it is harder to do if you keep adding more activities. We make decisions on what requires out attention the most.

Inattention and Change Blindness

Inattentional blindness is the failed to notice a fully visible, but unexpected object because our attention was engaged on another task, event, or object. Change blindness refers to the failure to notice something different about a display. Change blindness involves memory.

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Absolute Threshold and Difference Threshold

Absolute threshold is the minimum level of stimulus intensity for a stimulus to be perceived. It is the amount of intensity needed for a person to detect a difference between something and nothing. Differential thresholds refers to the intensity difference needed between two stimuli before people can perceive that the stimuli are difference.

Signal Detection Theory

Signal Detection Theory holds that the detection of a stimulus depends on both the intensity of the stimulus and the physical and psychological state of the individual. For example if you were walking to your car at night you might be more on edge and hear noises that you would not normally hear if you were in a different not as threatening situation.

Let's look at some situations where this is important:

Weber's Law and Sensory Adaptation

Weber’s Law states that the change in a stimulus that will be just noticeable is a constant ratio of the original stimulus. For example if the volume of a television is high, turning it down by a few decibels will not be a very big difference. But if you turn it down 4 or 5 decibels, then a difference will be detected. Sensory adaptation refers to a reduction in sensitivity to a stimulus after constant exposure to it People who live by busy roads are so used to the traffic outside their window that it doesn't bother them. However, if someone from a more rural area comes to visit, that person will most likely find the constant sound of the traffic irritating. These concepts can apply to the field of psychology because it shows how aware people can be about what they are doing and how much of the stimulus they need to register something.

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Rods and Cones

Rods are responsible for vision at low light levels, but to not mediate color and have low spatial acuity. Cones are active at higher light level and capable of color vision and responsible for high spatial acuity and things in detail.

Prosopagnosia. What's life like with it?

Auditory Perception

Functions of the Middle and Inner Ear & Place Theory

The middle ear is in charge of transferring sound waves from the ear to the fluid of the cochlea. The inner ear actually has two functions. The first one is hearing and the second is balancing. It's a network of tubes that are filled with fluid and incased in the Temporal bone of the skull. Place Theory is a theory which states that our perception of sound depends on where each component produces vibrations along the membrane.

What is Tinnitus and how does it affect my psychological health?

Tinnitus is the ringing or buzzing sensation that occurs in the ears and never goes away. It can affect one's psychological health by leading to disorders such as depression, suicide ideation, PTSD, anxiety, and anger. It affects some people so bad that they are unable to function in day-to-day life.

All about Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt Psychology was originally introduced by Christian Von Ehrenfels in 1890. Other psychologists who have contributed to the research of this are Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka. Gestalts psychologists describe principles in which we organize our sensations into perceptions. Gestalt psychology states that given a cluster of sensations humans are able to form them into a "gestalt", which means "form" or "whole". Some of the groups that are formed are proximity, continuity, closure, similarity, and connectedness.
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Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk

In the 1960s, psychologists Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk developed the visual cliff test to use on humans and animals. In the test a child is placed at the end of a platform and the care givers are placed at the opposite end of the clear surface. The original assumption was that if a child had developed depth perception, then they would be able to perceive the visual cliff and refuse to crawl over to the parents. So is depth perception trained or maturated? The answered is matured. Psychologists believed that children as young as 3 months were physically and visually matured enough to realize the consequence of going over the "cliff".

What is Strabismus?

Strabismus, also known as cross-eyed, is a vision problem in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. This affects people because their eyes do not focus together on the same object. This then causes each eye to sent a different message to the brain and they may even see two different pictures or just a blurry object.

Treatments include specialized computers, therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters to help train the visual-motor skills and develop endurance.

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Different Perceptions

Extrasensory Perception

What is it?

Extrasensory is perception that occurs independently of sight, hearing, or other sensory processes. In simpler terms, psychic or the "sixth sense". One argument against extrasensory perception being a legit field of study is that it's too hard to replicate. It also lacks a theory among the believers and many are unable to explain the abnormality of the situation. One may argue for extrasensory, however, being a legit field of study because of the experiments that have been performed. J.B Rhine performed a majority of these experiments and is often known as the father of parapsychology.

Should parapsychology be a legitimate field of study?

"The determination of whether parapsychology should be a legit field of study or not depends on the person. There are some people that believe it 100% and will continue to believe it even if you were to show them proof that it doesn't exist. Then on the other side of the scale, you have the people that don't believe it 100% and will continue to not believe it even if you showed them proof that it did. I fall somewhere in the middle because I think that it should be a legitimate field but I'm not going to be disappointed if it's not. More information about it would be nice though and I hope that it continues to be researched."


"Today many psychologist and research are debating if parapsychology should be considered a legit field of research and if more attention should be brought towards it. Because it is such a young and new concept still, there has not been a lot of research brought towards it. I think it is interesting and that it may very well be a possibility if it is true, but I am a little skeptical if people can knowingly actually predict things. I think the experiments and different studies of it that have been done are a good start but I do not know if it is actually a real thing."


If you could pick any fast food place to eat at right now, where would you go?