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bottom up

sensory analysis with info passing from senses to the brain; based on the information from the visual field

top down

begins in the brain and filters through our own personal expectations and experiences to produce perceptions of what we see, feel, hear, etc.

absolute threshold

minimum stimulation necessary for awareness 50% of the time; varies by individual and circumstances


the study of the relationship between physical characteristics and our perception of them

difference thresholds

our ability to distinguish between two stimuli 50% of the time

weber's law

two stimuli must differ by a constant proportion

sensory adaptation

diminishing sensitivity to odors, sounds, touches, etc., over time


tough, outer coat, which is opaque in the front, where it bulges out to form a transparent


colored muscle surrounding the pupil- controls the size of the pupil opening


adjustable opening in the center of the eye, regulates the amount of light


transparent structure behind the pupil that changes shape to help focus images on the retina


contains the receptor rods and cones plus layers of neurons that begin the processing of information; also contains bipolar and ganglion cells; connected to the optic nerve


dispersed throughout the back of the retina- black, white, and grey; dim light)


clustered at the fovea- color vision; bright light


in the retina; central point of vision

trichromatic theory

proposed that the retina has three types of color receptors

opponent-process theory

proposed that two additional color processes red-green and yellow-blue and black-white; response to one color inhibits the other; color processing occurs in two stages

semicircular canal

controls vestibular sense


has little hairs that vibrate- "brain in the ear"

vestibular sense

relies on the semicircular canals in the inner ear to maintain the body's balance

phantom limb pain

very real pain; the brain still receives messages even though the limb is gone

gate- control theory

use of alternative treatments such as acupuncture, or electric stimulation- tricks the brain by sending messages via larger nerves


anything "olfactory"

gestalt principle

to make a whole out of pieces


to zoom in on one figure and put it on a "background"


assuming something is together if they are close to each other


grouping like things together


continuation of the "line"


tendency to fill the gaps


tendency to "fix" things

Gibson and walk

depth perception- tendency to see things in 3D so that we can judge distance

monocular cues

adjusting to using just one eye to judge distance or relative height

phi phenomena

when two adjacent stationery lights blink off and on in such quick succession that an illusion of movement is created

stroboscopic movement

quick, successive, briefly flashed images as in animated cartoons

perceptual constancy

perceiving objects correctly regardless of distance, light, angle, etc.

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