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stimulation of the senses


organizing and interpreting sensory information


study of relationships btw physical characteristics of stimuli and our experience of them

absolute threshold

lowest level of stimulation that a person can detect

difference threshold

smallest change in stimulation that a person can detect (aka just noticeable difference)

weber's law

the stronger the stimulus the greater the change must be in order for it to be noticed

signal detection theory

theory that a person's experience, expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue influnce thresholds


adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light enters


transparent structure behind the pupil; bends and focuses light rays on the retina


the layer of rods and cones that lines the back of the eye

optic nerve

carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain.


small depression in the retina; mostly cones; clearest vision

blind spot

where the optic nerve leaves the eye, no rods or cones


number of waves per second


height of a wave


color receptors


receptors that detect black, white, and gray


shade of color; determined by the wavelength of light


image focused in front of retina; see close objects clearly; distant objects less clear


image focused behind retina; see far objects clearly; close objects less clear

night blindness

decreased ability to see in reduced light; impaired rod function; deficiency of vitamin A


inability to dintinguish colors; defiency or absence of cones


visual image that persists after a stimulus is removed

binocular fusion

process of combining the images received from the two eyes into a single image

retinal disparity

depth cue; compare images from the two eyes; brain computes distance; greater the difference btw the two images, the closer the object

auditory nerve

nerve that carries impulses from the inner ear to the brain


highness or lowness of a tone; frequency


unit of frequency, pitch


measurement of intensity or loudness, amplitude


a snail-shaped tube; inner ear; lined with receptor cells; sound

middle ear

chamber btw the eardrum and cochlea; hammer, anvil, and stirrup; concentrate the vibrations of the eardrum on the

inner ear

innermost part of the ear; cochlea, semicircular canals, and vestibular sacs; relay sound waves to the auditory nerve fibers

opponent process theory

color vision is derived from three pairs of opposing receptors; blue and yellow, red and green, and black and white.

place theory

in hearing, pitch liked with the place where the cochlea's membrane is stimulated

frequency matching theory

firing rate of a neuron matches the frequency of a sound wave to determine pitch

vestibular system

three semicircular canals; sense of balance, in the inner ear; connected to the brain by a nerve

olfactory nerve

carries impulses from olfactory receptors in the nose to the brain




Experience of taste, smell, temperature,texture


system for sensing the position and movement of individual body parts

figure ground

organization of visual field into objects (figures) that stand out from their surroundings (ground)

visual cliff

laboratory device for testing depth perception in infants and young animals


the human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts

subliminal messages

brief auditory or visual messages that are presented below the absolute threshold


perception does not accurately represent the world

gustav fechner

father of psychophysics, built on the work of Weber, refined principles of perception.

ernst weber

pioneered study of Just Noticeable Difference, which became Weber's law. JND is proportional to size of the stimulus.

david hubel

w/Torsten Wiesel discovered feature detector groups of neurons;in visual cortex, respond to different types of visual images

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