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an unelaborated elementary awareness of stimulation

receptor cell

a specialized cell that responds to a particular type of energy


conversion of one form of energy into another. In sensation, the transforming of stimulus energies, such as sights, sounds, and smells, into neural impulses our brains can interpret.

absolute threshold

the lowest level of stimulation that a person can detect


(physiology) the responsive adjustment of a sense organ (as the eye) to varying conditions (as of light)

difference threshold

the smallest change in stimulation that a person can detect

Weber's law

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


transparent anterior portion of the outer covering of the eye


contractile aperture in the iris of the eye


muscular diaphragm that controls the size of the pupil


a transparent optical device used to converge or diverge transmitted light and to form images


the light-sensitive membrane covering the back wall of the eyeball


area consisting of a small depression in the retina containing cones and where vision is most acute


the different energies represented in the electromagnetic spectrum


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


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

bipolar cells

eye neurons that receive information from the retinal cells and distribute information to the ganglion cells

visual acuity

sharpness of vision

dark adaptation

the process of adjusting the eyes to low levels of illumination

light adaptation

the process of adjusting the eyes to relatively high levels of illumination


an image (usually a negative image) that persists after stimulation has ceased

ganglion cells

the specialized cells which lie behind the bipolar cells whose axons form the optic nerve which takes the information to the brain

optic nerve

the cranial nerve that serves the retina

blind spot

the point where the optic nerve enters the retina

optic chiasm

the crossing of the optic nerves from the two eyes at the base of the brain

feature detectors

nerve cells in the brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement




the act of soaking thoroughly with a liquid


the location of a visual perception along the black-to-white continuum

additive color mixing

Formation of colors by superimposing lights, putting more light in the mixture than exists in any one light by itself.

subtractive color mixing

Formation of colors by removing some wavelengths of light, leaving less light than was originally there.

trichromatic theory

Visual theory, stated by Young and Helmholtz that all colors can be made by mixing the three basic colors: red, green, and blue; a.k.a the Young-Helmholtz theory.


people who have normal color vision

color blindness

genetic inability to distinguish differences in hue


People who are blind to either red-green or yellow-blue


People who cannot perceive any color, usually because their retinas lack cones.

opponent-process theory

the theory that opposing retinal processes enable color vision


the particular auditory effect produced by a given cause

sound waves

vibrations of the air or of another medium


the number of observations in a given statistical category


the unit of frequency


the property of sound that varies with variation in the frequency of vibration


greatness of magnitude


a logarithmic unit of sound intensity


tones that result from sound waves that are multiples of the basic tone; primary determinant of timbre


(music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound)

oval window

fenestra that has the base of the stapes attached to it


the snail-shaped tube (in the inner ear coiled around the modiolus) where sound vibrations are converted into nerve impulses by the Organ of Corti

basilar membrane

a membrane in the cochlea that supports the Organ of Corti

organ of Corti

the hearing organ of the inner ear

auditory nerve

a composite sensory nerve supplying the hair cells of the vestibular organ and the hair cells of the cochlea

place theory

in hearing, the theory that links the pitch we hear with the place where the cochlea's membrane is stimulated

frequency theory

in hearing, the theory that the rate of nerve impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, thus enabling us to sense its pitch

volley principle

The theory holding that groups of auditory nerve fibers fire neural impulses in rapid succession, creating volleys of impulses.

olfactory bulb

one of two enlargements at the terminus of the olfactory nerve at the base of the brain just above the nasal cavities


odorless chemicals that serve as social signals to members of one's species

taste buds

sense receptors in the tongue that respond to sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, and perhaps fat

kinesthetic senses

senses that provide information about movement, posture, and orientation

stretch receptors

receptors that sense muscle stretch and contraction

Golgi tendon organs

located in the tendon, both at the muscle origin and insertion

vestibular senses

the senses of equilibrium and body position in space

gate-control theory

theory that spinal cord contains neurological gate that blocks pains signals or allows them to pass. gate is opened by activity of pain going up small nerve fibers & gate is closed by act of large fibers or by info coming from brain

biopsychosocial theory

the theory that the interaction of biological, psychological, and cultural factors influence the intensity and duration of pain.

placebo effect

any effect that seems to be a consequence of administering a placebo

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