Sensory and Perception

By: Denisse AND Emily

Sensation & Perception - Crash Course Psychology #5
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Difference between Sensory and Perception

Sensation is the sights, sounds, tastes, feeling, and smells that our bodies sense from our environment. Perception is how our brain interprets and understands this raw sensory data.

Scenario: If you are looking at a painting in the museum and consider why the artist may have chosen a certain title, OR wonder why the facial expressions in the painting look angry, or scared; what type of processing occurs?

  • The two types of processing are Bottom-Up and Top-Down. This is scenario is an example of Top-Down Processing because it is driven by the data.

Selective Attention

Selective attention is the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli and concentrate on just one aspect of your environment. In our daily lives this allows us to accomplish tasks without being bombarded by impossible amounts of unimportant information.
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Distracted Driving

As Melinda Beck mentioned on her Lunch Break interview, 98% of people do not have the capability to focus on more than one thing at a time. That means that drivers who are texting, talking, or eating are unable to focus on both activities and their driving performance decreases and becomes more dangerous.

Inattention Blindness:

A psychological lack of attention that causes an individual to fail to notice unexpected stimuli that should be apparent. It is caused by selective attention when someone is overly focused on a specific stimuli.

Change Blindness:

When people fail to notice large changes in their environment

Weber's Law:

States that for a change in a stimulus to be noticeable the change must occur in a constant ratio from the original. Weber's Law is important in psychology because it asserts that people perceive change by proportion not amount. In day to day life this can have a major effect on things like financial decisions. For example, if you are buying a $200 iPhone and there is a $100 upgrade, you might find it too expensive. However, if you were buying a $35,000 car, you would probably not think twice about the $100 dollar upgrade. The proportion of the change is makes you perceive it as more or less in comparison.

Sensory Adaptation:

Our senses adapting to stop recognizing unchanging stimuli. An example would be walking into the kitchen and immediately noticing the smell of the food, but later during the meal you no longer notice it.

Absolute Threshold

  • The absolute threshold is the point where something becomes noticeable to our senses. It is the softest sound we can hear or the slightest touch we can feel. Anything less than this goes unnoticed. The absolute threshold is therefore the point at which a stimuli goes from undetectable to detectable to our senses.

Difference Threshold

The difference threshold is the amount of change needed for us to recognize that a change has occurred.


Marketing Specialists, medical professionals, soldiers, and airport security all look for patterns. They used daily their absolute threshold ability.

Signal Detection Theory

  • This concept is referred to as signal detection because we attempt to detect what we want to focus on and ignore or minimize everything else. An example could be when you are talking to your friend in the cafeteria, we are focusing our attention on our friend and ignoring the mass information entering our senses.
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Basic Anatomy of the Eye

Cornea- clear outer portion that all light must pass through to enter the eye

Pupil- hole in the center of the iris which light passes through

Iris- the colored part of the eye, acts as a diaphragm to the pupil opening

Retina- light sensing area of the eye, contains rods and cones

Optic nerve- nerve connected to the back of the eye that transmits impulses to the brain

Lens- clear piece behind the cornea that focuses light

Rods and Cones

Rods and Cones are photoreceptors in the retina, they convert incident light energy into signals that are carried to the brain by the optic nerve.

  • Rods are responsible for vision at low light levels.

  • The cones are active at higher light levels- capable of color vision.

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Also known as "face blindness" is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.

Prosopagnosia is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage, or impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, a fold in the brain that appears to coordinate the neural systems that control facial perception and memory. Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases.

For patients with prosopagnosia is harder for them to socialize, it could affect their career and could lead to depression.

Faces In The Crowd - Trailer
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Place Theory

Place theory is a term that refers to how sound is received and perceived by the human ear. It refers to how sound waves affect different areas of the eardrum, to create the perception of different types of sounds.

Ex: Motorcycle getting closer and closer has greater sound waves.

Ear Functions

Middle ear- Vibrates when struck by sound waves and trasmits sound to the cochlea.

Inner ear- The cochlea converts fluid waves to nerve impulses. It also detects head movement and linear acceleration.

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The ringing or buzzing in the ears.

Negative Effects of Noise Pollution on Health:

-#1 cause of hearing loss

-Coronary Artery Disease

-High Blood Pressure

Negative Effects Of Noise Pollution on Psychological Health:

-stress-related health conditions such as migraine, colitis, ulcers and decreased sleep and sleep quality

-emotional problems

-mental fatigue



-decreased helpful behavior

-reduced motivation and task performance

-impaired cognitive development in children

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Gestalt psychology:

In the early 20th century Gestalt psychologists included the founder Max Wertheimer and others such as Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka. The theory states that the whole scene or big picture is more important than the small individual parts. Their findings show that we process senses in a big picture way which strives to make unity out of chaos. An example of this is the law of apparent motion. This law explains how we perceive motion and action happening in cartoons and videos when it is nothing more than many individual frames put together.
Stop Motion Animation - The Missing Stickman
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A visual signal that an object is closer than the ones behind it because the closer object covers part of the farther object.

  • For example, you know that your book is closer than your desk because you see the desk around the book.

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Linear Perspective

A visual term that refers to the eye's sense of depth and distance perception. This is why roads appear to narrow with distance.

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Perceptual Constancy

The tendency to see familiar objects as having standard shape, size, colour, or location regardless of changes in the angle of perspective, distance, or lighting.

Recognizing a friend after a long time is and example of perceptual constancy because even though some of his/her physical features change you are still able to recognize him/her.

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Perceptual Set

Our tendency to interpret things in certain ways based on previous experiences.

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Visual Cliff Experiment

In the 1960s, psychologists Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk performed the famous Visual Cliff Experiment. They tested when the development of depth perception occurred in infants by placing them near what seemed to be a sudden drop and having their mothers call for them. Almost all the 6 to 9 month old babies refused to cross the visual cliff, even to reach their mothers. This experiment shows that depth perception is something learned in the later months of infancy but not something that infants are born with, suggesting training rather than maturation.

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Retinal Disparity

The brain combines the two images from each eye into one using binocular cues. Retinal Disparity is the slight difference between the images received by each eye.


Strabismus is a visual problem in which the eyes are not aligned properly and point in different directions. One eye may look straight ahead, while the other eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward. The eye turn may be consistent, or it may come and go.
Strabismus: Life Through a Lazy Eye

Extrasensory Perception

Extrasensory Perception, also know as ESP, is defined as being perception or communication outside of normal sensory capability, with some examples being telepathy and clairvoyance.
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Argument for ESP

Most argumentation for ESP relies heavily on personal experience or anecdotal evidence. If someone experiences or hears about an extreme circumstance that seems impossible to be purely coincidental, they may choose to believe in ESP. Also there have been a lot of scientific studies done on twins that indicate an ESP-like bond between them.
Impossible Coincidences That Actually Happened
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Argument Against ESP

Fundamentally ESP goes against everything we know about the set rules of the universe. These are laws that have been proven by countless experiments. There has been no indisputable scientific proof to support these extraordinary claims.

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Parapsychology: Good or Bad?

Parapsychology should only be considered as legitimate as the scientist performing it. The founder, J.B. Rhine, was an honest psychologist testing and studying the evidence without manipulation or deception, which is legitimate science. His beliefs about ESP do not necessarily discredit his scientific method and his results.

Subliminal Experiment

Subliminal means “below the threshold” and subliminal messages are used to influence the subconscious. To test the effects of subliminal messages we had people stare at the computer then flash a word too quickly for their conscious mind to perceive. An example of a word we flashed is apple. We would then ask them what fruit, or whatever criteria that word would fit, came to their mind first. We found that while this was not an exact science, the message did have some influence on the answers.
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Work Cited

"Aircraft Noise Linked to Increased Health Risks, Says Study." Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Argumentum Ad Populum." Argumentum Ad Populum. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm." Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Gestalt Psychology." Gestalt Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Gestalt Psychology Principles." N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Harris, Tom. "The Case Against ESP." HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Harris, Tom. "The Case for ESP." HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Interposition." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Is Religious Experience Evidence for God?" N.p., 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Middle Ear Function." : Overview, What Is Sound?, External Ear. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Philosophy of Religion." Philosophy of Religion The Argument from Religious Experience Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

"Place Theory." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Psychology: A Modular Approach to Mind and Behavior." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Rods & Cones." Rods & Cones. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"Webers Law." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

"What Is Strabismus?" - Eye M.D.-approved Information from EyeSmart. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.