Psych-Chapter 5

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the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system take in stimulus energies from our environment


the process by which our brain organizes and interprets sensory information, transforming it into meaningful objects and events


changing one form of energy into another

Absolute Threshold

the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time

Difference Threshold

the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50% of the time

Weber’s Law

the principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum proportion (rather than a constant amount)

Sensory Adaptation

reduced sensitivity in response to constant stimulation

Perceptual Set

a mental predisposition to perceive one thing and not the other

The process by which we organize and interpret sensory information is called


Subliminal stimuli are

below our absolute threshold for conscious awareness.

Another term for difference threshold is

just noticeable difference.

Weber’s Law states that for a difference to be perceived, two stimuli must differ by

a constant minimum proportion

Sensory adaptation helps us focus on

important changes in the environment.

Our perceptual set influences what we perceive. This mental tendency reflects our

experiences, assumptions, and expectations

What is the rough distinction between sensation and perception?

Sensation is the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system take in stimulus energies from our environment. Perception is the mental process by which our brain organizes and interprets sensory information, transforming it into meaningful objects and events.


the distance from the peak of one light or sound wave to the pack of the next


The dimension of color that is determined by the wavelength of light; blue, free, etc


the amount of energy in a light wave or sound wave, which we perceive as brightness or loudness, as determined by the waves ampltiude


adjusts the size of the pupil


controls the amount of light entering your eye


eyeballs protective covering


eyeballs inner surface


retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray; necessary for twilight and peripheral vision, when cones don’t respond


retinal receptor cells that are concentrated near the center of the retina; in daylight or well-lit conditions, cones detect fine detail and give rise to color sensations

Optic Nerve

the nerve that carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain

Blind Spot

the point ay which the optic nerve leaves the eye; this part of the retina is "blind" because it has no receptor cells

Feature Detectors

nerve cell in the brain that responds to specific features of a stimulus, such as edges, lines, and angles

Parallel Processing

the processing of many aspects of a problem or scene at the same time; the brains natural mode of information processing for many functions, including vision

The characteristic of light that determines the color we experience, such as blue or green, is


The blind spot in your retina is located where

the optic nerve leaves the eye.

Rods and cones are the eyes receptor cells. Cones are especially sensitive to ____ light and are responsible for our ____ vision.

bright; color

The cells in the visual cortex that respond to certain lines, edges, and angles are called

feature detectors

The brain is capable of processing many aspects of an object or problem at the same time. We call this ability

parallel processing

What is the rapid sequence of events that occurs when you see and recognize someone that you know?

Light waves reflect off the person and travel into your eye, where the rods and cones convert the light waves’ energy into neural impulses sent to your brain. Your brain processes the sub dimensions of this visual input- including color, depth, movement, and form- separately but simultaneously. It integrates this information (along with previously stored information) into a conscious perception of the person you know.


an organized whole


the organization of the visual field into objects that stand out from their surroundings


perceptual tendency to organize stimuli into meaningful groups


we group nearby figures together


we perceive smooth continuous patterns rather than discontinuous ones


we fill in gaps to create a whole, complete object

Depth Perception

the ability to see objects in three dimensions, although the images that strike the retina are two dimensional; allows us to judge distance

Visual Cliff

a laboratory device for testing depth perception in infants and young animals

Binocular Cues

a depth cue, such as retinal disparity, that depends on the use of the two eyes

Retinal Disparity

a binocular cue for perceiving depth. By comparing images from the two eyes, the brain computes distance- the greater the disparity (difference) between the two images, the closer the object

Monocular Cue

a depth cue, such as interposition or linear perspective, available to either eye alone

Perceptual Constancy

perceiving objects as unchanging even as illumination and retinal images change

Color Constancy

perceiving familiar objects as having consistent color, even if changing illumination alters the wavelengths reflected by the object

Perceptual Adaptation

in vision, the ability to adjust to an artificially displaced or even inverted visual field

Gestalt psychologists identified principles by which we organize our perceptions. Our minds bring order and form to stimuli by following certain rules for


In listening to a concert, you attend to the solo instrument and perceive the orchestra as accompaniment. This illustrates the organizing principle


The visual-cliff experiments suggest that

crawling human infants and very young animals perceive depth.

Depth perception is our ability to

judge distances

Two examples of monocular cues are interposition and

linear perspective

Perceiving a tomato as consistently red, despite lighting shifts, is an example of

color constancy

In some cases, surgeons have restored vision to patients who have been blind from birth. The newly sighted individuals were able to sense colors but had difficulty

recognizing objects by sight

In experiments, people have worn glasses that turned their visual fields up side down. After a period of adjustment, they learned to function quite well. This ability is called

perceptual adaptation

What do we mean when we say that, in perception, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

Gestalt psychologists used this saying to describe our perceptual tendency to organize clusters of sensations into meaningful forms or groups


the sense or act of hearing


the number of complete wavelengths that pass a point in a given time


a tone’s experienced highness or lowness; depends on frequency


a coiled, bony, fluid filled tube in the inner ear; sound waves traveling the cochlea fluid trigger nerve impulses


: a social interaction in which one person suggests to another that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors will spontaneously occur

Sensory Interaction

: the principle that one sense may influence another, as when the smell of food influences its taste


the system for sensing the position and movement of individual body parts

Vestibular Sense

the sense of body movement and position, including sense of balance

The amplitude of a light wave determines our perception of brightness. The amplitude of a sound wave determines our perception of


The frequency of sound waves determines their pitch. The longer the waves, the lower their frequency, and the _____ their pitch.


The snail-shaped tube in the inner ear, where sound waves are converted into neural activity, is called the


Of the four skin senses that make up our sense of touch, only _____ has its own identifiable receptor cells.


Which of the following has NOT been proven to reduce pain?

Phantom Limb Sensations

The taste of the food we ear is greatly enhanced by its smell or aroma. This influence of one sense on another is an example of

sensory interaction

The receptors for the vestibular sense are located in the

inner ear

There is some evidence to suggest that the following ESP phenomenon may have a scientific base of support.


What are the basic steps in transforming sound waves into perceived sound?

A simple figure offers a synopsis

How does our system for sensing smell differ from our sensory systems for vision, touch, and taste?

We have two types of retinal receptors, four basic touch sense, and five taste sensations. But we have no basic smell receptors. Instead, different combinations of odor receptors send messages to the brain, enabling us to recognize some 10,000 different smells.

What three steps are basic to all our sensory systems?

Receiving sensory input, transforming that input into neural impulses (transduction), delivering neural information to our brain

Can Subliminal Stimuli persuade us?

We do sense stimuli subliminally -less than 50% of the time – but those sensations do not have lasting behavioral effects.

What function does sensory adaptation serve?

We grow less sensible to constant sensory input. Sensory adaptation makes us aware of changes in our environment.

What are the four basic touch sensations, and which of them has identifiable receptors?

Pressure, warmth, cold, and pain. Only pressure has identifiable receptors

Both taste and smell are

chemical senses


Extrasensory Perception

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