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experience of sensory stimulation


process of creating meaningful patterns from raw sensory information

receptor Cell

A specialized cell that responds to a particular type of energy

Absolute Threshold

te least amount of energy that can be detected as a stimulation 50 perecent 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 on the retina


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


Area of the retina that is the center of the visual field


The small segment of the electromagnetic spectrum to which our eyes are sensitive


The difference energies represented in the electromagnetic spectrum


REceptor cells in the retina responsible for night vision and perception of brightness


Receptor cells in the retina responsible for color vision

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 adaptation

Increased sensitivity of rods and cones in darkness

Light adaptation

Decreased sensitivity of rods and cones in bright light


Sense experience that occurs after a visual stimulus has been remoed

ganglion cells

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

Optic nerve

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

Blind spot

Place on the retina where the axons of all ganglion cells leave the eye and where there are no receptors

Optic chiasm

Point near the base of the brain where some fibers in the optic nerve from each eye cross to the other side of the brain


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


the vividness 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 wavelengths of light and reflects others

trichromatic 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 inablilty 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 (yello-blue, red-green, black-white) respond in either/or fashion to determine the color you experience


A psychological experience created by the brain in response to changes i air 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


Cycles per second; unit of measurement for the frequency of waves


Auditory experience corresponding primarily to frequency of sound vibrations, resulting in a high 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 multiple of the basic tone: primary determinant of timbre


The quantity or texture of sound; caused by overtones

Hammer, anvil, stirrup

The three small bones in the middle ear that relay vbrations 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 that equalizes pressure in the inner ear


Part of the inner ear containing fluid that ibrates which turn causes the basilar membrane 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 tothe brain

Place theory

Theory that pitch is determined by the location of gretest vibration of teh 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, then another, etc., firing corresponds to the frequence of sound

Olfactory epithelium

Nasal membranes containing receptor cells sensitive to odors

Olfactory bulb

The smell center in teh brain


Chemical that communicates information to other organisims through smell

Ohermone vomeronasal organ (VNO)

Location of receptors for phermones in the roof of the nnasal cavity

Taste buds

Structures on the tongue that contain the recptor cells for taste


Small bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds

Kinesthetic senses

senses of forces and movement of muscles

Stretch receptors

Receptors that sense muscle stretch and contraction

Gogli tendon organs

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

Vestibular sense

Senses of equilibrium and body position 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 verticle 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 releif 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

Feature detectors

Specialized brain cells that only respond 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 regardles of the distane from which it is viewed

Shape Constancy

Tendency to see an object as the sae shape no matter what angle it is viewed from

Brightness constancy

Perception of brightness as the same, eve 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, by artly blocking a second object, is perceived as being closer

Linear perspective

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

Aerial perspective

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


Monocular cue to distance and depth based on the fact that the higher on the horizontal pane an object 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


Monoculr cue to distance adn 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 thatn point of visual focus seem to move opposite viewer's moving head, and objets beyond the focus point seem to move same direction

Steroscopic vision

Combination of two retinal images to give a three-dimensional perceptual experience

Retinal disparity

Binocular distance cue based on the difference between the images cast on the two retinas when both eyes are focused on the same object


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

Monaural cue

Cue to sound location that requires just one ear

Binaural cue

Cue to sound location that involves both earrs working together

Autokinetic illusion

The perception that a stationary object is actually moving

Stroboscopic motion

Apparent movement that results from flashing a series of still pictures in rapid succession, as in a motion picture

Phi phenomenon

Apparent movement caused by flahsing lights in sequence, as on theater marguees

Physical illusion

Illusion due to distortion of information reaching receptor cells

Perceptual illusion

Illusion due to misleading cues in stimuli that give inaccuraate perceptions

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