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From Chapter 4 of Psychology AP Edition Philip G. Zimbardo (Author), Robert L. Johnson (Author), Ann L. Weber (Author), Craig W. Gruber (Author)


A sensory characteristic of sound produced by the amplitude (intensity) of the sound wave


The quality of a sound wave that derives from the wave's complexity (combination of pure tones)

Conduction deafness

An inability to hear resulting from damage to structures of the middle or inner ear.

Nerve deafness (sensorineural deafness)

An inability to hear that is linked to a deficit in the body's ability to transmit impulses from the cochlea to the brain, usually involving the auditory nerve or higher auditory processing centers

Vestibular sense

The sense of body orientation with respect to gravity. The vestibular sense is closely associated with the inner ear and, in fact, is carried to the brain on a branch of the auditory nerve

Kinesthetic sense

The sense of body position and movement of body parts relative to each other (also called kinesthesis)


The sense of smell


Chemical signals released by organisms to communicate with other members of their species; are often used by animals as sexual attractants; unclear whether or not humans employ pheromones


The sens of taste-from the same word root as "gusto"- also called the gustatory sense

Skin senses

Sensory systems for processing touch, warmth, cold, texture, and pain

Gate-control theory

An explanation for pain control that proposes we have a neural "gate" that can, under some circumstances, block incoming pain signals

Placebo effect

A response to a placebo (a fake drug) caused by subject's belief that they are taking real drugs


The meaningful product of perception-often an image that has been associated with concepts, memories of events, emotions, and motives

Feature detectors

Cells in the cortex that specialize in extracting certain features of a stimulus

Binding problem

Refers to the process used by the brain to combine (or "bind") the results of many sensory operations into a single percept. This occurs. for example. when sensations of color. shape boundary, and texture are combined to produce the percept of a person's face. No one knows exactly how the brain does this. Thus the binding problem is one of the major unsolved mysteries in psychology

Bottom-up processing

Perceptual analysis that emphasizes characteristics of the stimulus, rather than our concepts and expectations. "______" refers to the stimulus ,which occurs at the first step of perceptual processing

Top-down processing

Perceptual analysis that emphasizes the perceiver's expectations, concept memories, and other cognitive factors, rather than being driven by the characteristics of the stimulus. "top" refers to a mental set in the brain-which stands at the :top" of the perceptual processing system

Perceptual constancy

The ability to recognize the same object as remaining "constant" under different conditions, such as changes in illumination, distance, or location


You have experienced an illusion when you have a demonstrably incorrect perception of a stimulus pattern, especially one that also fools others who are observing the same stimulus. (if no one else sees it the way you do, you could be having a delusion or a hallucination. We'll take those terms up in a later chapter on mental disorder)

Ambiguous figures

images that are capable of more than one interpretation. There is no "right" way to see an ambiguous figure

Gestalt psychology

From a German word that means "whole" or "form" or "configuration"; ______ _______ believed that much of perception is shaped by innate factors built into the brain


The part of a pattern that commands attention; stand out against the ground


The part of a pattern that does not command attention; the background


The Gestalt principle that identifies the tendency to fill in gaps in figures and to see incomplete figures as complete

Laws of perceptual grouping

The Gestalt principles of similarity, proximity, continuity, and common fate. These "laws" suggest how our brains prefer to group stimulus elements together to form a percept

Law of similarity

The Gestalt principle that we tend to group similar objects together on our perceptions

Law of proximity

The Gestalt principle that we tend to group objects together when they are near each other.

Law of continuity

Gestalt principle that we prefer perceptions of connected and continuous figures to disconnected and disjointed ones

Law of common fate

The Gestalt principle that we tend to group similar objects together that share a common motion or destination

Law of pragnanz

the most general Gestalt principle, which states that the simplest organization, requiring the least cognitive effort, will emerge as the figure.

Monocular cues

Information about depth that relies on the input of just one eye (includes relative size, light and shadow, interposition, relative motion, and atmospheric disorders)

Binocular cues

Infomation taken in by both eyes that aids in depth perception, including binocular convergence and retinal disparity

Learning-based inference

The view that perception is primarily shaped by learning (or experience), rather than by innate factors

Perceptual set

readiness to detect a particular stimulus in a given context-as when a person who is afraid interprets an unfamiliar sound in the night as a threat

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