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Sensations vs. Perception. Sensation & Perception 2 How do we construct our representations of the external world? To represent the world, we must detect.

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Presentation on theme: "Sensations vs. Perception. Sensation & Perception 2 How do we construct our representations of the external world? To represent the world, we must detect."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sensations vs. Perception

2 Sensation & Perception 2 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.

3 Bottom-up Processing 3 Analysis of the stimulus begins with the sense receptors and works up to the level of the brain and mind. Letter “A” is really a black blotch broken down into features by the brain that we perceive as an “A.”

4 Top-Down Processing 4 Information processing guided by higher-level mental processes as we construct perceptions, drawing on our experience and expectations. THE CHT

5 Top-Down Processing Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Our experience and expectations enable us to immediately perceive the scrambled letters as meaningful words and sentences.

6 Making Sense of Complexity 6 Our sensory and perceptual processes work together to help us sort out complex images. “The Forest Has Eyes,” Bev Doolittle

7 Sensing the World 7 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.

8 Exploring the Senses 8 1. What stimuli cross our threshold for conscious awareness? 2. Could we be influenced by stimuli too weak (subliminal) to be perceived? 3. Why are we unaware of unchanging stimuli, like a band-aid on our skin?

9 Psychophysics A study of the relationship between physical characteristics of stimuli and our psychological experience with them. Physical World Psychological World LightBrightness SoundVolume PressureWeight SugarSweet 9

10 22 nd October 1850 A relative increase in mental intensity, [Fechner] realized, might be measured in terms of the relative increase in physical energy required to bring it about (Wozniak, 1999). 10 Gustav Fechner ( )

11 Detection 11 No Intensity Absolute Threshold Detected Yes No Observer’s Response Tell when you (the observer) detect the light.

12 Thresholds 12 Absolute Threshold: Minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time. Proportion of “Yes” Responses Stimulus Intensity (lumens)

13 Subliminal Threshold Subliminal Threshold: When stimuli are below one’s absolute threshold for conscious awareness. 13

14 Difference Threshold 14 Difference Threshold: Minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50% of the time, also called just noticeable difference (JND). Difference Threshold Tell when you (observer) detect a difference in the light. No Observer’s Response NoYes

15 Weber’s Law Two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage (rather than a constant amount), to be perceived as different. Weber fraction: k =  I/I. StimulusConstant (k) Light8% Weight2% Tone3% 15

16 Signal Detection Theory (SDT) 16 Predicts how and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus (signal) amid background noise (other stimulation). SDT assumes that there is no single absolute threshold and detection depends on: Person’s experience Expectations Motivation Level of fatigue Carol Lee/ Tony Stone Images

17 SDT Matrix Decision YesNo Signal Present HitMiss Absent False Alarm Correct Rejection 17 The observer decides whether she hears the tone or not, based on the signal being present or not. This translates into four outcomes.

18 Sensory Adaptation 18 Diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation. Put a band aid on your arm and after awhile you don’t sense it.

19 Smelly Marker Experiment 1. Get a partner and choose a marker that is different than your partner’s marker. 2. Follow my directions.


21 Transduction 21 In the definition of sensation, transduction is the transformation of stimulus energy into neural impulses. Phototransduction: Conversion of light energy into neural impulses that the brain can understand.

22 The Stimulus Input: Light Energy 22 Visible Spectrum Both Photos: Thomas Eisner

23 Light Characteristics Wavelength (hue/color) 2. Intensity (brightness) 3. Saturation (purity)

24 Wavelength (Hue) 24 Hue (color) is the dimension of color determined by the wavelength of the light. Wavelength is the distance from the peak of one wave to the peak of the next.

25 Wavelength (Hue) 25 Different wavelengths of light result in different colors. 400 nm 700 nm Long wavelengths Short wavelengths Violet IndigoBlue Green Yellow OrangeRed

26 Intensity (Brightness) 26 Intensity Amount of energy in a wave determined by the amplitude. It is related to perceived brightness.

27 Intensity (Brightness) 27 Blue color with varying levels of intensity. As intensity increases or decreases, blue color looks more “washed out” or “darkened.”

28 Purity (Saturation) 28 Monochromatic light added to green and red makes them less saturated. Saturated

29 Color Solid 29 Represents all three characteristics of light stimulus on this model.

30 The Eye 30

31 Parts of the eye Cornea: Transparent tissue where light enters the eye. 2. Iris: Muscle that expands and contracts to change the size of the opening (pupil) for light. 3. Lens: Focuses the light rays on the retina. 4. Retina: Contains sensory receptors that process visual information and sends it to the brain.

32 The Lens 32 Lens: Transparent structure behind the pupil that changes shape to focus images on the retina. Accommodation: The process by which the eye’s lens changes shape to help focus near or far objects on the retina.

33 The Lens 33 Nearsightedness: A condition in which nearby objects are seen more clearly than distant objects. Farsightedness: A condition in which faraway objects are seen more clearly than near objects.

34 Retina 34 Retina: The light- sensitive inner surface of the eye, containing receptor rods and cones in addition to layers of other neurons (bipolar, ganglion cells) that process visual information.

35 Optic Nerve, Blind Spot & Fovea 35 Optic nerve: Carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain. Blind Spot: Point where the optic nerve leaves the eye because there are no receptor cells located there. This creates a blind spot. Fovea: Central point in the retina around which the eye’s cones cluster.

36 Test your Blind Spot 36 Use your textbook. Close your left eye, and fixate your right eye on the black dot. Move the page towards your eye and away from your eye. At some point the car on the right will disappear due to a blind spot.

37 Photoreceptors 37 E.R. Lewis, Y.Y. Zeevi, F.S Werblin, 1969

38 Bipolar & Ganglion Cells 38 Bipolar cells receive messages from photoreceptors and transmit them to ganglion cells, which are for the optic nerve.

39 Visual Information Processing 39 Optic nerves connect to the thalamus in the middle of the brain, and the thalamus connects to the visual cortex.

40 Ganglion & Thalamic Cells 40 Retinal ganglion cells and thalamic neurons break down visual stimuli into small components and have receptive fields with center-surround organization. Action Potentials ON-center OFF-Surround

41 Feature Detection 41 Nerve cells in the visual cortex respond to specific features, such as edges, angles, and movement. Ross Kinnaird/ Allsport/ Getty Images

42 Shape Detection 42 Specific combinations of temporal lobe activity occur as people look at shoes, faces, chairs and houses. Ishai, Ungerleider, Martin and Haxby/ NIMH

43 Perception in Brain 43 Our perceptions are a combination of sensory (bottom-up) and cognitive (top-down) processes.

44 Visual Information Processing 44 Processing of several aspects of the stimulus simultaneously is called parallel processing. The brain divides a visual scene into subdivisions such as color, depth, form and movement etc.

45 From Sensation to Recognition 45 Tim Bieber/ The Image Bank

46 Theories of Color Vision 46 Trichromatic theory: Based on behavioral experiments, Helmholtz suggested that the retina should contain three receptors that are sensitive to red, blue and green colors.

47 Subtraction of Colors 47 If three primary colors (pigments) are mixed, subtraction of all wavelengths occurs and the color black is the result.

48 Addition of Colors If three primary colors (lights) are mixed, the wavelengths are added and the color white is the result. 48 Fritz Goro, LIFE magazine, © 1971 Time Warner, Inc.

49 Photoreceptors 49 Red Cones Green Cones Long wave Medium wave Short wave MacNichol, Wald and Brown (1967) measured directly the absorption spectra of visual pigments of single cones obtained from the retinas of humans. Blue Cones


51 Color Blindness Genetic disorder in which people are blind to green or red colors. This supports the Trichromatic theory. 51 Ishihara Test

52 Opponent Colors 52 Gaze at the middle of the flag for about 30 Seconds. When it disappears, stare at the dot and report whether or not you see Britain's flag.

53 Opponent Process Theory Hering proposed that we process four primary colors combined in pairs of red-green, blue- yellow, and black-white. 53 Cones Retinal Ganglion Cells

54 Color Constancy Color of an object remains the same under different illuminations. However, when context changes the color of an object may look different. 54 R. Beau Lotto at University College, London


56 56 Traditionally, taste sensations consisted of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastes. Recently, receptors for a fifth taste have been discovered called “Umami”. Sweet Sour Salty BitterUmami (Fresh Chicken)

57 Taste Receptors on the Tongue The receptors for the human sense of taste are located on the tongue and on the soft palate. There are just five stimuli to which these receptors respond. These are:  sweet (as in sugar)  sour (as in acidic substances like lemon juice)  bitter (strong coffee or quinine in tonic water)  salt (table salt)  umami (monosodium glutamate, savouries, soya sauce, crisps)

58 Old Research The traditional view is that tastes are detected on different parts of the tongue. New research The taste buds are still found in the same areas on the tongue but each one can detect all five tastes.

59 Taste Receptors on the Tongue

60 Perception of Taste Smell: chewing helps to transfer more odor from the mouth to the back of the nose.  several million receptor cells per square centimeter respond to thousands of chemicals in the food. Sight: plays an unexpectedly important role in our perception of flavors. The taste of a colorless, shapeless food is extremely difficult to recognize.

61 HOW CAN WE HEAR WHAT WE DO? 61 Audition

62 The Stimulus Input: Sound Waves 62 Sound waves are composed of compression and rarefaction of air molecules. Acoustical transduction: Conversion of sound waves into neural impulses in the hair cells of the inner ear.

63 Sound Characteristics Frequency (pitch) 2. Intensity (loudness) 3. Quality (timbre)

64 Frequency (Pitch) 64 Frequency (pitch): The dimension of frequency determined by the wavelength of sound. Wavelength: The distance from the peak of one wave to the peak of the next.

65 Our Friends the Elephants Elephants are very vocal creatures and yet we didn't really know this until Katy Payne discovered in 1984 that much of their talk is below the threshold of human hearing.  We can only hear 40% of the sounds elephants make.  An Elephant greeting!  etings.html etings.html

66 Intensity (Loudness) 66 Intensity (Loudness): Amount of energy in a wave, determined by the amplitude, relates to the perceived loudness.

67 Loudness of Sound 67 70dB 120dB Richard Kaylin/ Stone/ Getty Images Thunder Rock Band Subway Noises

68 Quality (Timbre) Quality (Timbre): Characteristics of sound from a zither and a guitar allows the ear to distinguish between the two. 68 Zither Guitar

69 Overtones Overtones: Makes the distinction among musical instruments possible. 69

70 The Ear 70 Dr. Fred Hossler/ Visuals Unlimited

71 The Ear 71 Outer Ear: Pinna. Collects sounds. Middle Ear: Chamber between eardrum and cochlea containing three tiny bones (hammer, anvil, stirrup) that concentrate the vibrations of the eardrum on the cochlea’s oval window. Inner Ear: Innermost part of the ear, containing the cochlea, semicircular canals, and vestibular sacs.

72 Cochlea Cochlea: Coiled, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear that transforms sound vibrations to auditory signals. 72

73 73 Theories of Audition Place Theory suggests that sound frequencies stimulate the basilar membrane at specific places resulting in perceived pitch.

74 Theories of Audition 74 Frequency Theory states that the rate of nerve impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, thus enabling us to sense its pitch. Sound Frequency Auditory Nerve Action Potentials 100 Hz 200 Hz

75 Localization of Sounds Because we have two ears, sounds that reach one ear faster than the other ear cause us to localize the sound. 75

76 Localization of Sound Intensity differences 2. Time differences Time differences as small as 1/100,000 of a second can cause us to localize sound. The head acts as a “shadow” or partial sound barrier.

77 Hearing Loss 77 Conduction Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by damage to the mechanical system that conducts sound waves to the cochlea. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by damage to the cochlea’s receptor cells or to the auditory nerve, also called nerve deafness.

78 Hearing Deficits Older people tend to hear low frequencies well but suffer hearing loss when listening for high frequencies. 78

79 Deaf Culture 79 Cochlear implants are electronic devices that enable the brain to hear sounds. Cochlear ImplantDeaf Musician EG Images/ J.S. Wilson © Wolfgang Gstottner. (2004) American Scientist, Vol. 92, Number 5. (p. 437)


81 Other Important Senses 81 The sense of touch is a mix of four distinct skin senses—pressure, warmth, cold, and pain. Bruce Ayers/ Stone/ Getty Images

82 Skin Senses 82 Only pressure has identifiable receptors. All other skin sensations are variations of pressure, warmth, cold and pain. Burning hot PressureVibration Cold, warmth and pain

83 Pain 83 Pain tells the body that something has gone wrong. Usually pain results from damage to the skin and other tissues. A rare disease exists in which the afflicted person feels no pain. Ashley Blocker (right) feels neither pain nor extreme hot or cold. AP Photo/ Stephen Morton

84 Biopsychosocial Influences 84

85 Gate-Control Theory 85 Melzak and Wall (1965, 1983) proposed that our spinal cord contains neurological “gates” that either block pain or allow it to be sensed. Gary Comer/

86 Pain Control 86 Pain can be controlled by a number of therapies including, drugs, surgery, acupuncture, exercise, hypnosis, and even thought distraction. Todd Richards and Aric Vills, U.W. ©Hunter Hoffman,


88 Sensory Interaction 88 When one sense affects another sense, sensory interaction takes place. So, the taste of strawberry interacts with its smell and its texture on the tongue to produce flavor.

89 Smell 89 Like taste, smell is a chemical sense. Odorants enter the nasal cavity to stimulate 5 million receptors to sense smell. Unlike taste, there are many different forms of smell.

90 Age, Gender, and Smell 90 Ability to identify smell peaks during early adulthood, but steadily declines after that. Women are better at detecting odors than men.

91 Smell and Memories 91 The brain region for smell (in red) is closely connected with the brain regions involved with memory (limbic system). That is why strong memories are made through the sense of smell.

92 Body Position and Movement 92 The sense of our body parts’ position and movement is called kinesthesis. The vestibular sense monitors the head (and body’s) position. Whirling Dervishes Wire Walk Bob Daemmrich/ The Image Works

93 The process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting sensory information, which enables us to recognize meaningful objects and events. 93 Chapter 6 Perception

94 94 Selective Attention Perceptions about objects change from moment to moment. We can perceive different forms of the Necker cube; however, we can only pay attention to one aspect of the object at a time. Necker Cube

95 95 Inattentional Blindness Inattentional blindness refers to the inability to see an object or a person in our midst. Simmons & Chabris (1999) showed that half of the observers failed to see the gorilla-suited assistant in a ball passing game. Brain Games video clip.

96 96 Change Blindness Change blindness is a form of inattentional blindness in which two-thirds of individuals giving directions failed to notice a change in the individual asking for directions. © 1998 Psychonomic Society Inc. Image provided courtesy of Daniel J. Simmons.

97 97 Perceptual Illusions Illusions provide good examples in understanding how perception is organized. Studying faulty perception is as important as studying other perceptual phenomena. Line AB is longer than line BC.

98 98 Tall Arch In this picture, the vertical dimension of the arch looks longer than the horizontal dimension. However, both are equal. Rick Friedman/ Black Star













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