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Thinking About Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior. Charles T. Blair-Broeker Randal M. Ernst. Sensation and Perception. Chapter 04. Sensation. Module 09. Introduction. Module 9: Sensation. Sensation/Perception. Pulfrich Effect Demonstration Describe what occurred

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Module 09



Module 9: Sensation

sensation perception
  • Pulfrich Effect Demonstration
  • Describe what occurred
  • Why did you see the optical illusion?
  • What aspect of the demonstration represented sensation? Perception?
  • The process by which our sensory systems (eyes, ears, and other sensory organs) and nervous system receive stimuli from the environment
  • A person’s awareness of the world
bottom up processing
Bottom-Up Processing
  • Information processing that focuses on the raw material entering through the eyes, ears, and other organs of sensation
  • The process of organizing and interpreting sensory information
top down processing
Top-Down Processing
  • Information processing that focuses on expectations and experiences in interpreting incoming sensory information
sensation perception1
Sensation & Perception

How do we construct our representations of the external world?

To represent the world, we must detect physical energy (a stimulus) from the environment and convert it into neural signals. This is a process called sensation.

When we select, organize, and interpret our sensations, the process is called perception.

bottom up processing1
Bottom-up Processing

Analysis of the stimulus begins with the sense receptors and works up to the level of the brain and mind. ASSOCIATE WITH SENSATION.

Letter “A” is really a black blotch broken down into features by the brain that we perceive as an “A.”

count the f s in the following text
Count the f’s in the following text:
top down processing1
Top-Down Processing

Information processing guided by higher-level mental processes as we construct perceptions, drawing on our experience and expectations. ASSOCIATE WITH PERCEPTION (schemas also)


can you read this
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making sense of complexity
Making Sense of Complexity

Our sensory and perceptual processes work together to help us sort out complex images.

“The Forest Has Eyes,” Bev Doolittle

sensing the world
Sensing the World

Senses are nature’s gift that suit an organism’s needs.

A frog feeds on flying insects; a male silkworm moth is sensitive to female sex-attractant odor; and we as human beings are sensitive to sound frequencies that represent the range of human voice.



Module 9: Sensation

  • An edge or a boundary
difference threshold
Difference Threshold
  • The minimum difference that a person can detect between two stimuli 50% of the time
  • Also called just noticeable difference
signal detection theory
Signal Detection Theory
  • Set of formulas and principles that predict when we will detect the presence of a faint stimulus (signal) amid background stimulation (noise)
  • Developed out of the Cold War
signal detection theory1
Signal Detection Theory
  • Three kinds of variables
    • Stimulus variables
    • Environmental variables
    • Organismic variables
sensory adaptation

Sensory Adaptation

Module 9: Sensation

sensory adaptation1
Sensory Adaptation
  • Diminished sensitivity as a result of constant stimulation
  • If a stimulus is constant and unchanging, eventually a person may fail to respond to it
  • Examples of Sensory Adaptation in your own world?
sensory adaptation2
Sensory Adaptation

Diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation(unchanging stimulus).

Put a band aid on your arm and after awhile

you don’t sense it.

sensory adaptation3
  • Sensory receptors are alert to novelty. Example?
  • Benefit of sensory adaptation: Focus on informative change in our environment, without distractions of uninformative constant stimulation
  • Fundamental lesson: We perceive the world not exactly as it is, but as it is useful for us to perceive it.
selective attention

Selective Attention

Module 9: Sensation

selective attention1
Selective Attention
  • Focusing conscious awareness on a particular stimulus to the exclusion of others
  • The ability to focus on one stimulus at a time
  • Allows a person to function in a world filled with many stimuli
electromagnetic energy
Electromagnetic Energy
  • An energy spectrum that includes X-rays, radar, and radio waves
  • A small portion of the spectrum includes light visible to the human eye
  • The color of light as determined by the wavelength of the light energy
  • Includes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROY G BIV)
  • The eye can detect 7 million separate hues
  • The brightness of light as determined by height of the wave
  • The taller the wave, the brighter the color
  • The clear bulge on the front of the eyeball
  • Begins to focus the light by bending it toward a central focal point
  • Protects the eye
  • A ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye; creates a hole in the center of the iris (pupil)
  • Regulates the size of the pupil by changing its size--allowing more or less light to enter the eye
  • The adjustable opening in the center of the eye that controls the amount of light entering the eye (surrounded by the iris)
  • In bright conditions the iris expands, making the pupil smaller.
  • In dark conditions the iris contracts, making the pupil larger.
  • A transparent structure behind the pupil; focuses the image on the back of the eye (retina)
  • Muscles that change the thickness of the lens change how the light is bent thereby focusing the image
  • Glasses or contacts correct problems in the lens’ ability to focus.
  • Light-sensitive surface with cells that convert light energy to nerve impulses
  • At the back of the eyeball
  • Made up of three layers of cells
    • Receptor cells
    • Bipolar cells
    • Ganglion cells
receptor cells
Receptor Cells
  • These cells are present in every sensory system to change (transduce) some other form of energy into neural impulses.
  • In sight they change light into neural impulses the brain can understand.
  • Visual system has two types of receptor cells – rods and cones
  • Visual receptor cells located in the retina
  • Can only detect black and white
  • Respond to less light than do cones
  • Visual receptor cells located in the retina
  • Can detect sharp images and color
  • Need more light than the rods
  • Many cones are clustered in the fovea.
  • The central focal point of the retina
  • The spot where vision is best (most detailed)
bipolar cells
Bipolar Cells
  • Gather information from the rods and cones and pass it on to the ganglion cells
  • Cells that form the middle layer in the retina
ganglion cells
Ganglion Cells
  • Pass the information from the bipolar cells through their axons
  • Together these cells form the optic nerve.
  • The top layer of the cells in the retina
optic nerve
Optic Nerve
  • The nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the occipital lobes of the brain
blind spot
Blind Spot
  • The point at which the optic nerve travels through the retina to exit the eye
  • There are no rods and cones at this point, so there is a small blind spot in vision.

E.R. Lewis, Y.Y. Zeevi, F.S Werblin, 1969

trichromatic three color theory
Trichromatic (three-color) Theory
  • Theory of color vision that says cones are “tuned” to be sensitive to red, green and blue light
  • All the colors we see are a combination of these three colors.
  • Based on work of Helmholtz and Young
  • Similar to the design of a color TV
subtractive color mixing
Subtractive Color Mixing
  • When mixing colored paints, each new color SUBTRACTS (soaks up) another wavelength.
  • Red, blue, and yellow combine to make black paint.
additive color mixing
Additive Color Mixing
  • When mixing colored lights, each new color ADDS another wavelength.
  • Red, green, and blue combine to make white light.
color deficient vision
Color Deficient Vision
  • People who lack one of the three types of cones
  • Usually the red or green receptors are missing
  • Usually referred to as color blindness
  • In inherited and found more in males
opponent process theory of color
Opponent-Process Theory of Color
  • Theory that says color is processed in opponent pairs of color:
    • Red-green, yellow-blue, black-white
  • Light that stimulated one half of the pair inhibits the other half
  • Ewald Hering
  • Explains the afterimage effect
hearing the nature of sound

Hearing: The Nature of Sound

Module 9: Sensation

  • Sound, like light, comes in waves
  • Sound is vibration
  • Features of sound include:
    • Pitch
    • Hertz
    • decibels
  • A sound’s highness or lowness
  • Dependent on the frequency of the sound wave
  • Is measured as hertz (Hz)
hertz hz
Hertz (Hz)
  • A measure of the number of sound wave peaks per second; measures “frequency”
  • Determines the pitch of the sound
  • Human hearing goes from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
decibel db
Decibel (dB)
  • A measure of the height of the sound wave
  • Determines the loudness of the sound
  • Sometimes called amplitude
auditory canal
Auditory Canal
  • The opening through which sound waves travel as they move into the ear for processing
  • Ends at the tympanic membrane (eardrum)
tympanic membrane eardrum
Tympanic Membrane (eardrum)
  • The tissue barrier that transfers sound vibration from the air to the tine bones of the middle ear
  • Can be damaged by objects in the ear or exceptionally loud noises
  • Three tiny bones that transfer sound waves from the eardrum to the cochlea
  • Hammer, anvil and stirrup
  • A hearing organ where sound waves are changed into neural impulses
  • The major organ of hearing
  • Filled with fluid; a snail shaped body tube
oval window
Oval Window
  • The point on the surface of the cochlea which receives the sound vibration from the ossicles
  • As the oval window vibrates, the fluid in the cochlea vibrates.
hair cells
Hair Cells
  • The receptor cells for hearing in the cochlea that change sound vibrations into neural impulses
  • Similar to the rods and cones within the eye
auditory nerve
Auditory Nerve
  • The nerve that carries sound information from the ears to the temporal lobes of the brain
semicircular canals
Semicircular Canals
  • Organs in the inner ear used in sensing body orientation and balance (vestibular sense)
  • Relies on fluid in the canals
  • Spinning in circles disrupts the fluid.
divisions of the ear
Divisions of the Ear
  • Ear’s structure can be divided into:
    • The outer ear
    • The middle ear
    • The inner ear
hearing sound localization

Hearing: Sound Localization

Module 9: Sensation

localization of sound
Localization of Sound
  • Locating where sound is originating from
  • Done through two cues:
    • Which ear hears the sound first?
    • Which ear hears the louder sound?
other senses taste

Other Senses: Taste

Module 9: Sensation

  • Taste is a chemical sense.
  • Receptor cells are located primarily on the tongue and in the mouth.
  • Four different tastes:
    • Salty, sweet, sour and bitter
  • Damaged taste receptor cells are replaced within a few days.
  • People with an abundance of taste receptors
  • Approximately 25% of the population
  • People with a minimum of taste receptors
  • Taste with less intensity than the rest of the population
  • Approximately 25% of the population
supertasters and nontasters
Supertasters and Nontasters
  • Play “Tasters and Supertasters” (14:00) Segment #12 from Scientific American Frontiers: Video Collection for Introductory Psychology (2nd edition).
other senses smell

Other Senses: Smell

Module 9: Sensation

  • Smell is a chemical sense.
  • Olfactory cells in the upper nasal passages detect molecules in the air.
  • Taste and smell interact to produce flavor.
olfactory cells
Olfactory Cells
  • The chemical receptor cells for smell
  • Located in the nasal passages
other senses touch

Other Senses: Touch

Module 9: Sensation

  • Touch receptors are on the skin
  • Four basic skin senses are
    • Pain, warmth, cold, and pressure
  • All skin sensations are a combination of these four basic senses
gate control theory of pain
Gate-control Theory of Pain
  • Pain messages travel on one set of nerve fibers containing pain gates.
  • The gates are open when pain is felt.
  • Other sensory messages go through another set of fibers.
  • The nonpain fibers can close the pain gates to stop the sense of pain.
pain and phantom pain
Pain and Phantom Pain
  • Play “Phantom Limb Pain: Fooling the Mind” (4:29) Segment #20 from The Mind: Psychology Teaching Modules (2nd edition).
other senses body senses

Other Senses: Body Senses

Module 9: Sensation

kinesthetic sense
Kinesthetic Sense
  • The system for sensing the position and movement of individual body parts
  • Relies on receptor cells from the muscles and joints
  • One’s leg “falling asleep” is a disruption of the kinesthetic sense
vestibular sense
Vestibular Sense
  • The system for sensing body orientation and balance
  • Relies on fluid in the semicircular canals of the inner ear
  • Spinning in circles disrupts the fluid.
kinesthetic and vestibular sense
Kinesthetic and Vestibular Sense
  • Play “Sensory-Motor Integration” (3:27) Module #11 from The Brain: Teaching Modules (2nd edition).
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