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Process where sensory receptors and nervous system receive and represent stimulus energies from the environment


the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information

Bottom-up processing

processing that begins with the sensory receptors and works its way up

Top-down processing

processing that uses previous experiences to understand new ones

Selective attention

the focusing of conscious awareness on particular stimuli

Cocktail party effect

The ability to listen to a voice and block out others

Flow experience

Being so caught up in an experience that one misses out on obvious stimuli

inattentional blindness

Failure to see visible things when mind is elsewhere

change blindness

Failure to notice changes in the environment

choice blindness

people fail to notice choices they made

pop out stimuli

powerful stimuli that draw attention


study of the relationship characteristics of stimuli and how we experience them (s & p)

Gustav Fechner

studied absolute thresholds

absolute threshold

minimum amount of stimuli needed to detect something over 50% of the time if no other stimulus exists

signal detection theory

Detecting a stimulus also depends on physical and psychological state

Subliminal stimulation

Stimulation below the threshold. Any affect is only short term.

difference threshold

minimum difference that a person can detect between two stimuli

Weber's law

To be observed as different, proportion not amount is constant

Fechner's law

an increase in physical magnitude provides smaller increases in perceived magnitude

Sensory adaptation

diminishing sensitivity to an unchanging stimulus. Constant exposure to a stimulus causes neurons to fire less frequently


Our eyes receive light energy and transduce into a neural message for the brain

light's wavelength determines___


light's intensity determines___



Part of eye that protects it and bends light to provides focus


behind pupal; adjusts focus onto retina


multilayered tissue on eye's inner surface

order light hits eye

cornea, pupal (surrounded by iris), lens, retina: rods and cones, bipolar cells, ganglion cells.


colored muscle that adjusts light intake

Ganglion cells

axons form optic nerve

blind spot

where the optic nerve leaves the eye


color sensitive, clustered around retina center, connected to individual bipolar cells.


most sensitive area on the eye


not in center, not as detailed, not to individual bipolar, not affected by darkness, don't see color

feature detection scientists

David Huble and Torsten Wiesel

feature detection

these are individual cells that respond to specific parts of visual cortex (edges, movement, angles, etc.) pass info to association areas where it is integrated

order brain processes info

retinal processing (rods + cones, bipolar, ganglion), feature detection, parallel processing, recognition

optic nerve sends info to___


Parallel processing

brain cell teams (association areas) process combined info from feature detectors


brain interpreted constructed image based on info from stored imagery. The end result is the scene.

Young-Helmholtz theory

our eyes have red, blue, and green cones and use these to make the rest of the colors

Trichromatic theory

same as the young-Helmholtz theory

Opponent process theory scientist

Ewald Henry

Opponent process theory

we also have red/green and blue/yellow cones.


After looking at a red thing for too long, red portion of rods get exhausted. Then on a paper you see green.

amplitude of a sound wave determines___


Frequency of a sound wave determines___



outer ear, channels sound waves to auditory canal and ear drum


vibrates when struck with soundwaves

3 small bones

hammer, anvil, stirrup

purpose of 3 small bones

the vibration causes a piston they create to to transmit sound waves to cochlea in inner ear

vibrations effect on cochlea

oval window of cochlea vibrates which jostles the basilar membrane

auditory nerve formed by___

axons of neurons in basilar membrane

basilar membrane

contains tiny hairs which send impulses when bent

Loudness perception

based on number of hair cells activated

place theory scientist

Herman Von Helmholz

Place theory

Sound waves of different frequency trigger hairs in different areas. Only works for high pitched sound.

Frequency theory

brain develops frequency by monitoring frequency of impulses traveling up auditory nerve. Neural impulses travel at same rate as basilar membrane vibrates, same as sound wave.

individual neuron maximum firing time


Volley principal

neural cells alternate firing and achieve a higher frequency if used in combo

Locating sounds

closer ear hears more intense sound, and hears it sooner

Conduction Hearing loss

problems in mechanical systems that conducts sound waves to cochlea (ruptured eardrums, broken ear bones)

Sensorineural hearing loss

aka nerve deafness. damage to cochlea's hair cell receptors or associated nerves (hearing aid no help)

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