3. Sensory and Perception (Ch 5)

3.1 Attention

  • Sensation
    • transforming energy from outside stimuli into neural energy
  • Perception
    • taking neural energy and creating an image of outside world


  • Psychophysics

    • levels of intensity we can detect stimuli
    • how sensitive we are to changes in stimulation
    • how psychological factors influence our ability to sense stimuli
  • Psychological factors

    • motivation, past experience and expectation that impact our ability to notice stimuli
    • Signal detection theory: how people respond to different degress of stimuli
    • Important to detect differences between stimuli as well as their absence or presence
  • Selective attention

    • The amount of information we can hold in our awareness is less than what exists in the given environment

    • Our ideas about reality are chosen, organized and interpreted

    • Perception is constructing meaning out of sensation

      Image result for Selective attention

3.2 Other Senses

  • Somesthesis is the body’s sense of touch and is broken down into three systems:

    • the skin sense: keep bodily fluids in and germs out
    • the kinesthetic sense: knowing how your body is moving without visually observing ing
    • vestibular sense: keeps the body balanced, sense of balance
  • Olfaction is the body’s sense of smell

    • Chemical compounds of a specific “smell” travel through the nose to the brain
    • first processed by the olfactory bulb
    • Olfactory bulb has direct connections to amygdala and hippocampus which are strongly implicated in emotion and memory

      Image result for Olfactory amygdala hippocampus

  • Gustation is the body’s sense of taste

    • Promotes nutritional needs and protects from poisonous food
    • Bitter, sweet, salty, sour and unami (savory) are the five main types of taste
  • Vestibular system

    • sensory information pertaining to motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation
    • Located in each ear- utricle, saccule and three semicircular canals
      • utricle and saccule detect gravity and linear movement
    • Keeps eyes on target when head moves

      Image result for Vestibular system

3.3 Perceptual Development

  • What is the origin of our capacities? Nature or upbringing?

  • Ecological (nature)

    • some abilities are present at birth and fine-tuning of perceptual processes occurs throughout the lifespan
  • Constructivism (nurture)
    • construction of perception through learning and reliant on specific experiences

3.4 Perceptual Processes

  • Depth Perception

    • allows us to estimate distances between ourselves and objects we see

    • binocular cues (both eyes): Retinal Disparity

      Image result for Depth Perception

    • monocular cues (one eye): Linear Perspective

      Image result for Depth Perception monocular cue

    • Motion parallax: the apparent movement of stable objects when we are moving

      Image result for Depth Perception Motion parallax

    • Interposition: when one object partially blocks out another

      Image result for Depth Perception Interposition

  • Perceptual cues are hardwired but our experiences also shape our perception

    • sensory restriction: only has an effect in childhood when systems are forming
    • suggest a critical period for certain perceptions to be developed
  • Processing of information occurs in:

    • bottom-up: simple sensory receptors to complex neural networks
    • top- down: expectations, motives and contextual cues to raw sensory data

3.5 Receptor Processes

  • Vision allows for the processing of visual detail through use of the eyes
    • detects and interprets information from visual light
    • build representation of the surrounding environment
  • Audition is the process of taking in sound through the ear and having it travel to the brain
    • taken to language center of brain to be interpreted


  • Damage to an individual’s parietal lobes is most likely to result in
    • (A) a heightened sense of smell
    • (B) reduced sensitivity to touch
    • (C) decreased reaction time
    • (D) a loss in the ability to understand spoken language
    • (E) difficulty discriminating between the four


  • The picture above of a road receding in the distance represents the depth perception cue known as
    • (A) accommodation
    • (B) retinal disparity
    • (C) texture gradient
    • (D) relative size
    • (E) linear perspective
  • Which of the following cortical areas is most closely associated with vision?

    • (A) Frontal

    • (B) Prefrontal

    • (C) Temporal

    • (D) Occipital

    • (E) Parietal

  • The receptors for hearing are the
    • (A) ossicles in the middle ear
    • (B) otoliths in the semicircular canals
    • (C) hair cells on the basilar membrane
    • (D) specialized cells on the tympanic membrane
    • (E) cells in the lining of the auditory canal

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