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Exam 2


the process through which the senses pick up visual, auditory, and other sensory stimuli and transmit them to the brain.


the process by which sensory information is actively organized and interpreted by the brain

absolute threshold

the minimum amount of sensory stimulation that can be detected 50% of the time

difference threshold

a measure of the smallest increase or decrease in a physical stimulus that is required to produce a difference in sensation that is noticeable 50% of the time

just noticeable difference (JND)

The smallest change in sensation that a person is able to detect 50% of the time

Weber's Law

The Law stating that the just noticeable difference (JND) for all the senses depends on a proportion or percentage of change in a stimulus rather than on a fixed amount of change

Sensory Receptors

Highly specialized cells in the sense organs that detect and respond to one type of sensory stimuli-light sound, or oder, for example- and transduce (convert) the stimuli into neural impulses


the process through which sensory receptors convert the sensory stimulation into neural impulses

sensory adaptation

The process in which sensory receptors grow accustomed to constant, unchanging levels of stimuli over time

visible spectrum

The narrow band of electromagnetic waves visible to the human eye


the tough, transparent, protective layer that covers the front of the eye and bends light rays inward through the pupil


small opening in the center of the colored part of the eye


Colored part of the eye that dilates and contracts the pupil to regulate the amount of light that enters the eye


the transparent disc-shaped structure behind the iris and the pupil that changes shape as it focuses on objects at varying distances


the flattening and bulging action of the lens as it focuses images of objects on the retina


The layer of tissue that is located on the inner surface of the eyeball and contains the sensory receptors for vision


the light sensitive receptor cells in the retina that look like slender cylinders and allow the eye to respond to low levels of light


The light-sensitive, rounded receptor cells in the retina that enable humans to see color and fine detail in adequate light but do not function in very dim light.


A small area at the center of the retina that provides the clearest and sharpest vision because it has the largest concentration of cones

blind spot

The point in each retina where there are no rods or cones because the cable of ganglion cells is extending through the retinal wall.

optic nerve

The nerve that carries visual information from each retina to both sides of the brain

Primary visual cortex

The part of the brain in which visual information is processed

feature detectors

neurons in the brain that respond only to specific visual patterns (ex. lines or angles)


the dimension of light that refers to the specific color perceived


the purity of a color, or the degree to which the light waves producing it are of the same wavelength


the intensity of the light energy that is perceived as a color

color blindness

the inability to distinguish certain colors from one another

opponent-process theory

The theory of color vision suggesting that three kinds of cells respond by increasing or decreasing their rate of firing when different colors are present


A visual senstation that remains after a stimulus is withdrawn


A German word that roughly refers to the whole form, pattern, or configuration that a person perceives

perceptual constancy

the phenomenon that allows us to perceive objects as maintaining stable properties, such as size, shape, and brightness, despite differences in distance, viewing angle, and lighting

depth perception

The ability to perceive the visual world in three dimensions and to judge distances accurately

binocular depth cues

depth cues that depend on both eyes working together

monocular depth cues

depth cues that can be perceived by one eye alone

real motion

perceptions of motion tied to movements of real objects through space

apparent motion

perceptions of motion that seem to be psychologically constructed in response to various kinds of stimuli

phi phenomenon

apparent motion that occurs when several stationary lights in a dark room are flashed on and off in sequence, causing the perception that a single light is moving from one spot to the next.

autokinetic illusion

apparent motion caused by the movement of the eyes rather than the movement of the objects being viewed


a false perception or a misperception of an actual stimulus in the environment


the process of sorting through sensations and selecting some for further processing

inattentional blindness

the phenomenon in which we shift our focus from one object to another and, in the process, fail to notice changes in objects to which we are not directly paying attention

selective attention

screening out irrelevant sensory input in order to attend to a single source of information

bottom-up processing

information processing in which individual components of a stimulus are combined in the brain and prior knowledge is used to make inferences about these patterns

top-down processing

information processing in which previous experience and conceptual knowledge are applied in order to recognize the nature of a "whole" and then logically deduce the individual components of that whole

perceptual set

an expectation of what will be perceived, which can affect what actually is perceived

mirror neuron system (MNS)

a network of cells that the brain uses to interpret and produce motor actions and emotion-related behavior

subliminal perception

the capacity to perceive and respond to stimuli that are presented below the threshold of awareness

extrasensory perception (ESP)

Gaining information about objects, events, or another person's thoughts through some means other than the known sensory channels


the capacity for experiencing unusual sensations along with ordinary ones

trichromatic theory

The theory of color vision suggesting that there are three types of cones in the retina that make a maximal chemical response to one of three color-red, green, or blue.

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