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Using Art to Introduce Sensation and Perception. Las Meninas Las Meninas

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using art to introduce sensation and perception

Using Art to Introduce Sensation and Perception

Las Meninas

Las Meninas

(Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The work's complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. Because of these complexities, Las Meninas has been one of the most widely analyzed works in Western painting.

sensation and perception

Sensation and Perception

6-8% of the AP Exam

  • Definition
  • Sensation is coordination between:
    • Receptors
    • Neural Pathways
  • Sensory systems are separate but interact with perception.
can you name the senses
Can you name the senses?
  • There are 10 (ten) of them!
  • The process of selecting information from the environment
  • The interpretation of information from the environment
  • It is how we make sense of the world
  • Detection Thresholds- minimal amount of stimulus necessary for detection
  • _______________________
  • Detection Threshold

Detection Thresholds

  • Absolute Thresholds-the point at which a stimulus can be detected 50% of the time
  • Difference Thresholds (jnd)
  • ______________________
  • Absolute Threshold
  • _______________________
  • Detection Threshold

Detection Thresholds

  • Absolute Thresholds
  • Difference Threshold (JND)- the minimal change in stimulation that can be reliably detected 50% of the time
  • JND or Difference Threshold
  • ______________________
  • Absolute Threshold
  • _______________________
  • Detection Threshold
gustav fechner
Gustav Fechner

Gustav Fechner

  • Odd fellow (see notes)
  • Studied brightness, light and afterimages by looking directly at the sun (Bad Idea!)
  • Noted for defining absolute threshold and difference threshold
  • Inadvertent founder of psychophysics
  • Influenced by Ernst Weber
weber s law
Weber’s law

Ernst Weber- 1795-1878

First quantitative law of psychology

There is a constant proportion (not constant amount) between the threshold and the stimulus that can be detected.

In order for a change in stimulus to be detected, the amount of change needed depends on the present level of stimulation

signal detection theory
signal detection theory
  • Proposes that the detection of stimuli involves a decision process as well as a sensory process, which are both influenced by a variety of factors besides stimulus intensity.
  • Examples
    • Radar
    • Pizza Guy
subliminal perceptions

Subliminal Perceptions

There exists controversy as to whether people actually attend to the information presented below absolute threshold. Will it impact behavior?

Backmasking-Jeff Milner


  • Environmental information exists in many forms
    • Air vibrations, gases, chemicals, tactile pressures
    • Receptors cells act as transducers
  • Receptor activity is subject to change
    • Sensory adaptation – decline at the receptor level when stimuli are unchanging (EX. Ceiling fan)
    • Habituation – decline in sensory sensitivity at the neural level due to repeated stimulation
    • It is different from sensory adaptation in that responsiveness can reappear if stimulation levels are increased or decreased
    • (EX. Colored paper)
  • Begins with light entering the eye
    • Photoreceptors
structures of the eye
Structures of the eye
  • Sclera
  • Cornea
  • Iris
  • Pupil
  • Lens
  • Retina –
    • rods and cones
a closer look at the retina
A closer look at the retina
  • Rods-”see”
  • Cones-color
  • Fovea-greatest
    • visual acuity due
    • to densely packed
    • cones
  • Summation- Rods and cones—bipolar cells—ganglion cells—optic nerve (reduces size of optic nerve but some loss of acuity)
    • Blind spot
    • Why is there not hole in your vision?
visual pathway
Visual Pathway
  • Optic Chiasm
  • Visual Cortex
  • Hubel and Wiesel – Nobel prize 1981
  • Begins with light entering the eye Photoreceptors Visible spectrum
characteristics of light
Characteristics of Light
  • Wavelength
    • (hue)
  • Intensity
    • (brightness)
  • Complexity
    • (purity or saturation)
  • It all ends with the “color” we see.
color theories
Color theories

Opponent Process Theory-

Two color process as in red vs. green


  • Young –Helmholtz trichromatic theory- three different kinds of cones.
  • Receptor level
  • demo
color deficiencies
Color Deficiencies
  • Previously called color blindness
    • Dichromacy
    • Monochromacy
other fun stuff with vision
Other Fun Stuff with vision
  • Afterimages
  • Pulfrich Phenomenon
  • Flip books
moving on to
Moving on to




What are these senses?

  • It all begins with sound. Listen to this!
    • (Personal alarm 100db)
  • Sound is mechanical energy typically caused by vibrating objects
  • Vibrations produce movement of air molecules called sound waves
structures of the ear
Structures of the ear


Auditory canal

Tympanic membrane



Basilar membrane

Organ of corti

Hair cells

locating sound
Locating sound

How do we locate sounds in our environment?

Binaural (two ears)

characteristics of sound
Characteristicsof Sound

Frequency (pitch)

This is measured by cps

Amplitude (loudness/volume)

Complexity (timbre/quality)

Why do nails on a chalkboard irritate?

auditory theories
Auditory Theories
  • Place Theory- differences in pitch result from stimulation of different areas of the basilar membrane
  • Frequency Theory- differences in pitch are due to rate of neural impulses traveling up the auditory nerve
    • This would not explain pitches above 1000Hz (upper 1/3 of piano keyboard) as the frequency of neural firing is only 1000 per second.
  • Volley Theory- surmises that the neurons fire in sequence as a rhythmic volley at higher frequencies.
  • Which is best explanation for how we “hear”?
noise pollution
Noise Pollution

Lengthy exposure of 90 db causes permanent damage

110 db for 30 minutes causes permanent damage

120 db for 5 minutes causes permanent damage

Hearing test

deafness may be caused by tumors skull injury poison birth trauma rubella
Deafness- May be caused bytumors, skull injury, poison, birth trauma, rubella
  • Conductive Deafness –lack of conduction from pinna to basilar membrane
  • Perceptive Deafness – nerve damage
the chemical senses

The Chemical Senses

Taste and smell are referred to as the chemical sense as they respond to the same environmental stimuli.

  • Taste cells are chemical sensitive receptors located in taste bud clusters
  • Taste buds are located on the
  • bumps on your tongue
four five basic qualities of taste
Four (five) basic qualities of taste






Other influences may be smell, temperature or “touch”

  • Receptors for smell are located on the olfactory patch which is a thin membrane in the upper nasal cavity
  • Olfactory cells are stimulated by gases dissolved in the fluid covering the membrane
  • For stimulus to be “smelled,” it must be dissolved
topics for discussion
Topics for discussion
  • Synesthesia David Eagleman
  • Asnosmia
  • Pheromones
  • In Humans???





skin senses
Skin Senses
  • Body’s largest sense receptor system
  • Receptors for this system are located throughout the body
basic sensations
Basic sensations

Current research does not support the belief that specialized receptor cells for each of the four senses exist


Warmth (hot)



gate control theory melzak
Gate Control Theory (Melzak)
  • Sensation of pain requires not only that pain information from skin receptors be active, but also the neural gate in the spinal cord to allow these signals to pass to the brain (the gate is closed when critical fibers in the spinal cord are activated)
  • Pressure stimulation tends to close the neural gate (activate the critical fibers) which is why rubbing a hurt area may relieve pain temporarily.
  • Stimulation-produced analgesia
  • Presumably, the needles stimulate nerve fibers that lead to a closing of the pain gate.
  • Communicates information about movement and location of body parts
  • Receptors found in joints, muscles and ligaments
  • JAX foot asleep?
vestibular sense
Vestibular Sense
  • Equilibratory sense
  • Knowledge of body position as in sense of balance
  • Receptors in semicircle canals (rotating movement) and vestibular sacs (straight line movement) in inner ear
think about it
Think about it. . .

Sensory Deprivation

The Ganzfeld Effect

the ganzfeld effect
The Ganzfeld Effect
  • From the German word for complete/full field
  • Occurs when the sensory system is steadily overloaded with uniform signal.
  • The demonstration provided a mild form of sensory deprivation and may provide mild hallucinations, relaxation and time distortion. (VERY MILD!!!)
  • Keep staring at the red light and see if something happens.


Wundt-Jastrow illusion

Time Perception Eagleman

perceptual process
Perceptual Process
  • Attention – Due to a stimuli-rich environment, both internal and external, we must make selective choices of that which we will attend
  • Selective Attention
  • Divided Attention
  • Determinants of attention
    • Physiological
    • Psychological
perceptual organization
Perceptual organization
  • The process which groups smaller units of the perceptual world into larger units
  • Gestalt Psychology
figure ground
Figure Ground

The tendency to organize the visual field into objects (figures) that stand apart from surroundings (back ground)

minimum tendency organization
Minimum tendency organization


Laws of grouping:



perceptual abilities
Perceptual Abilities
  • Our brains interpret stimuli in such a way as to impose stability on our environment, we override the literal sensory message with prior knowledge
perceptual constancies
Perceptual constancies




depth perception
Depth Perception

Binocular Cues:

binocular disparity


Monocular cues:


Motion parallax

Texture gradient

Linear Perspective

motion perception
Motion Perception

Autokenetic effect

Stroboscopic movement

Phi phenomenon

art project
Art Project

See provided instructions

Picasso’s Representation of Las Meninas

more perception
More Perception

Extreme LED

pattern perception

Pattern perception

Also called Form perception

Refers to recognition and identification of faces, words, shapes, melodies and such

  • Feature analysis Theory
  • Prototype-matching Theory
  • Bottom-up Processing
  • Top-down Processing
perceptual learning
Perceptual Learning
  • An increased ability to use sensory information
  • Perceptual potential is probably not developed to the extent it could be.
  • FYI-If you lose one sense, we attend to others more
  • False perceptions
  • Extra Sensory Perception
  • It comes in many varieties:
    • Precognition
    • Clairvoyant
    • Psycho kinesis
    • Telepathy