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sensation and preception vocab


Experience of sensory stimulation


process of creation meaningful patterns from raw sensory information.

receptor cell

a specialized cell that responds to a particular type of energy.

absolute threshold

the least amount of energy that can be detected as a stimulation 50 percent of the time


adjustment of the senses to stimulation

Difference Threshold

The smallest change in stimulation that can be detected 50 percent of the time.

Weber's Law

The principle that the just noticeable difference for any given sense is a constant proportion of the stimulation being judged


the transparent protective coating over the front part of the eye


small opening in the iris through which light enters the eye.


colored part of the eye.


transparent part of the eye inside the pupil that focuses light onto the retina


Lining of the eye containing receptor cells that are sensative to light


area of the retina that is the center of the visual field.


the small segment of the electromagnetic spectrum to which out eyes are sensative


the different energies represented in the electromagnetic spectrum


receptor cells in the retina repsonsible for night vision and perception of brightness- 20 million.


receptor cells in the retina repsonsible for color vision- 8 million

bipolar cells

neurons that have only one axon and one dendrite; in the eye, these neurons connect the receptors on the retina to the ganglion cells.

visual acuity

the ability to distinguish fine details.

dark adaption

Incresed sensitivity of rods and cones in darkness.

light adaption

decreased sensativity of rods and cones in bright light


sense experience that occurs after a visiual stimulus has been removed

ganglion cells

neurons that connect the bipolar cells in the eyes to the brain

optic nerve

the bundle of acons of ganglion cells that carries neural messages from each eye to the brain

blind spot

place on the retina where the axons of the ganglion cells leave the ye and where there are no receptors

optic chiasm

point near the base of the brain where soem fibers in the optic nerve from each eye cross to teh other side of the brain


the aspect of color that corresponds to names such as red, green, and blue


the vivdness or richness of a hue


the nearness of a color to white as opposed to black

additive color mixing

the process of mixing lights of different wavelengths to create new hues

subtractive color mixing

the process of mixing pigments, each of which absorbs some wavelenghts of light and reflects others

tricrhomatic theory

theory of color vision that all color perception derives from three different color receptors in the retina (usually red, green, and blue receptors).


partial or total inability to perceive hues


people who have normal color vision


people who are totally colorblind


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

opponent-process theory

theory of color vision that three sets of color receptors (yellow-blue, red-green, black-white) respond in either/ or fashion to determine the color you expereience


a psychological experience created by the brain in response to changes in aire pressure that are received by the auditory system.

sound waves

changes in pressure caused when molecules of air or fluid collide with one another and then move apart again


the number of cycles per second in a wave; in sound, the primary determinant of pitch

hertz (Hz)

cycles per second; unit opf measurement for the frequency of waves


auditory experienec corresponding primarily to frequency of sound vibrations, resulting in a higher or lower tone.


the magnitude of a wave; in sound, the primary determinant of loudness


unit of measurement for the loudness of sounds


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


the quality or texture of sound caused by overtones

ammer, avil, stirrup

the three small bones in the middle ear that relay vibrations of the eardrum to the inner ear.

oval window

membrane across the opening between the middle ear and inner ear that conducts vibrations to the cochlea

round window

membrane between the middle ear and inner ear the equalizes pressure in the inner ear


Part of the inner ear containing fluid that vibrates which in turn causes the basilar membran to vibrate.

basilar membrane

vibrating membrane in the cochlea of the inner ear; it contains sense receptors for sound

organ of corti

structure on the surface of the basilar membrane that contains the receptors cells for hearing

auditory nerve

the bundle of neurons that carries signals from each ear to the brain

place theory

theory that pitch is determined by the location of greatest vibrations of the basilar membrane

frequency theory

theory that pitch is determined by the frequency with which hair cells in the cochlea fire

volley principle

Refinement of frequency theory; receptors in ear fire in sequence, one group thenanother, etc., complete patter of firing corresponds to the frequence of sound.

olfactory bulb

the smell center in the brain


chemical that communicates information to other organisms through smell

peromone vomeronasal organ (VNO)

Location of receptors for pheromones in teh roof of the basal cavity

olfactory epithelium

nasal membranes containing receptor sensitive to odors

taste buds

structures on the tounge that contain the receptor cells for taste


small bumps pn the tongue that contain taste buds

kinesthetic senses

senses of forces and movement of muscles.

stretch receptors

receptors that sense muscle stretch and contraction.

golgi tendon oragans

receptors that sense movement of the tendons, which connect muscle to bone.

vestibular sense

senses of equilibrium and body posistion in space.

semicircular canals

structures in the inner ear particularly sensitive to body rotation.

vestibular sacs

sacs in the inner ear that are responsible for sensing gravitation and forward, backward, and vertical movement.

gate control theory

theory that a "neurological gate" in the spinal cord controls the transmission of pain messages to the brain.

placebo effect

Pain relief occurs when a person believes a pill or procedure will reduce pain; caused by endorphins


object perceived to stand apart from the background.


background against which the figure appears.

deature detectors

specialized brain cells that only repsond to particular elements of the visual field such as movement or lines of specific orientation.

perceptual constancy

tendency to perceive objects as stable and unchanging despite changes in sensory stimulation.

size constancy

Perception of an object as the same size regardless of the distance from which it is viewed

shape constancy

tendency to see an object as the same shape no matter what angle it is viewed from.

brightness constancy

perception of brightness as the same. even though the amount of light reaching the retina changes.

color constancy

inclination to perceive familiar objects as retaining their color despite changes in sensory information.

monocular cues

visual cues requiring the use of one eye.

binocular cues

visual cues requiring the use of both eyes.


monocular distance cue in which one object, partyle blocking a second object, is perceived as being closer

linear perspective

monocular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that two parallel lines seem to come together at the horizon

aerial perspective

moncular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that more distant objects are likely to appear hazy and blurred.


moncular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that the higher on the horizonal plane an objects is, the farther away it appears.

texture gradient

monocular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that objects seem at greater distances appear to be smoother and less textured


monocular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that shadows often appear on the parts of objects that are more distant

motion parallax

monocular distance cue: objects closer than point of visual focus seem to move oppostie viewer's moving head, and objects beyond that focus point seem to move same direction.

stereoscopic vision

combination of two retinal images to give three-dimensional perceptual experience.

retinal disparity

binocular distance cue based on the differnece between the images cast on the two retinas when both eues are focused on teh saem object.


A visual depth cue that comes from muscles controlling eye movement as the eyes turn inward to view a nearby stimulus

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