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another addition of the AP PSYCH GROUP


the study of the relationship between physical stimulation and subjective sensations

absolute threshold

The smallest amount of stimulation that can be detected

signal-detection theory

the theory that detecting a stimulus is jointly determined by the signal and the subject's response criterion.

just noticeable difference JND

The smallest amount of change in a stimulus that can be dectected.

Weber's Law

The principle that the just noticeable difference of a stimulus is a constant proportion despite variations in intensity.


the clear outer memebrane that bends light so that it is sharply focused in the eye.


the ring of muscle tissue that gives eyes their color and controls the size of the pupil.


a transparent structure in the eye that focuses light on the retina.


the visual process by which lenses become rounded for viewing nearby objects and flatter for viewing remote objects.


the rear multilayer part of the eye where rods and cones convert light into neural impulses.


Rod-shaped photoreceptor cells in the retina that are highly sensitive to light


Cone-shaped photorecptor cells in the retina that are sensitve to color.


the center of the retina, where cones are clustered.

dark adaptation

a process of adjustment by which the eyes become more sensitive to light in a dark environment

light adaptation

the process of adjustment by which the eyes become less sensitive to light in bright enviroments

optic nerve

the pathway that carries visual information from the eyeball to the brain

blind spot

a part of the retina through which the optic nerve passes. Lacking rods and cones, this spot is not responsive to light.

visual cortex

located in the back of the brain, it is the main information-processing center for visual information

feature detectors

neurons in the visual cortex that respond to specific aspects of a visual stimulus (such as lines and angles).

trichromatic theory

a theory of color vision stating that the retina contains three types of color receptors-- for red, blue, and green-- and that these combine to produce all other colors.


a visual sensation that persists after prolonged exposure and removal of a stimulus.

opponent-process theory

the theory that color vison is derived from three pairs of opposing receptors. The opponent colors are blue, and yellow, red and green, and black and white.


the sense of hearing

white noise

a hissing sound that results from a combination of all frequencies of the sound spectrum

auditory localization

The ability to judge the direction a sound is coming from.

conduction deafness

hearing loss caused by damage to the eardrum or bones in the middle ear.

nerve deafness

hearining loss caused by damage to the structures of the inner ear.

olfactory system

the structures responsible for the sense of smell


chemicals secreted by animals that transmit signals-- usually to other animals of the same species.

gustatory system

the structures responsible for the sense of taste.

taste buds

Nets of taste-receptors cells.

gate-control theory

the theory that the spinal cord contains a neurological "Gate" that blocks pain signals from the brain when flooded by competing signals.

kinesthetic system

the structures distributed throughout the body that gives us a sense of position and movement of body parts.

vestibular system

the inner ear and brain structures that give us a sense of equilibrium.


a rare condition in which stimulation in one sensory modality triggers sensations in another sensory modality.

sensory adaptation

a decline in sensitivity to a stimulus as a result of constant exposure

reversible figure

a drawing that one can perceieve in different ways by reversing figure and ground.

Gestalt psychology

A school of though rooted in the idea that the whole (perception) is different from the sum of it parts (sensation).

size constancy

the tendency to view an object as constant in size despite changes in the size of the retinal image.

shape constancy

the tendency to see an object as retaining its form despite changes in orientations.

depth perception

the use of visual cues to estimate the depth and distance of objects.


a binocular cue for depth perception involving the turning inward of the eyes as an object gets closer.

binocular disparity

a binocular cue for depth perception whereby the closeran object is to a perceiver, the more different the image is in each retina.

monocular depth cues

distance cues, such as linear perspective, that enable us to perceive depth with one eye.

visual cliff

an apparatus used to test depth perception in infants and animals (Figure 3.27 makes me giggle)

perceptual set

the effects of prior experience and expectations interpretations sensory input.

perceptual illusions

patterns of sensory input that give rise to misperceptions.

Muller-Lyer Illusion

An illusion in which the perceived lenght of a line is altered by the position of other lines that enclose it.

Ponzo illusion

An illusion in which the perceived lenght of a line is affected by linear perspective cues.

Moon illusion

the tendency for people to see the moon as larger when it's low on the horizon than when it's overhead.

extrasensory perseption ESP

The alleged ability to percieve something without ordinary sensory information


The study of ESP and other claims that cannot be explained by existing princples of science

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