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Sensory transduction

process by which our sensory system convert stimulus energy into neural messages

It isn't color that strikes our eyes, it is...

pulses of electromagnetic energy that our visual system experiences as color


the awareness of the world around us via sense receptors
bottom-up processing (sense receptors to brain)


Organization and interpretation of sensory info
Top-down processing (brain down)

Absolute Threshold

The minimum amount of stimulation required to detect a stimulus 50% of the time

Subliminal stimulation

below absolute threshold for conscious awareness

Just Noticeable Difference

minimum amount of change required to detect a difference 50% of time
(How much do you have to turn up the radio before you can hear it?)

Webber's Law

The JND increases with the magnitude of the stimulus
(If the music is loud, you have to turn it up a lot more to notice the difference rather than if it is very quiet)

Sensory Adaptation

the filtering out of non-changing stimuli, i.e. a buzzing in the room, the water temperature in a pool

Selective Attention

the focusing of conscious awareness onto one stimulus in spite of other stimulus

Cocktail Party Effect

A type of selective attention
Attending to one voice among many


Protects the eye and bends light to provide focus


The adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light enters


Ring of muscle forms colored portion of the eye around pupil and controls size of pupil opening


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


The eye's adjustment of the sharpness of an image


the sharpness of vision. It can be affected by small distortions in the shape of the eye.


Eye's lens is bent forward which makes closer objects appear more clearly, A condition in which nearby objects are seen more clearly than distant objects because distant objects focus in front of the retina


A condition in which faraway objects are seen more clearly than near objects because the image of near objects is focused behind the retina


light sensitive inner surface of the eye. Contains cones & rods and neurons to process visual information.


Retinal receptors that detect black, white, and grey


Retinal receptor cells in inner part of retina that work better in well lit conditions to pick up color conditions


area consisting of a small depression in the retina containing cones and where vision is most acute

Bipolar Cells

Transmit signals from rods and cones to ganglion cells

Ganglion Cells

Have long axons that extend into the brain. These axons form the optic nerve

Optic Nerve

Nerve that carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain

Blind Spot

The point at which the optic nerve leave the eye creating a _______ because no receptor cells are located there

Feature Detector Neurons

Receive visual information and respond to specific features of a scene like shape, angle, or motion

Parallel Processing

Processing several aspects of a problem simultaneously (brain uses this)
The brain works on color, depth, movement, and form simultaneously

Serial Processing

Step by step processing (Computers use this)

Young-Helmholtz trichomatic theory

The retina has three types of color receptors each sensitive to one of three colors: red, green, blue.
If you stimulate more than one at a time, you'll see other colors

Subtractive Color Mixing

When we mix red, blue, and green paint we get brown colored paint.
Formation of colors by removing some wavelengths of light, leaving less light than was originally there.

Additive Color Mixing

when all colors of light are mixed the result is white which is what results from the combination of all visible wavelengths

Opponent-Process Theory

(Hering) the theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision. For example, some cells are stimulated by green and inhibited by red; others are stimulated by red and inhibited by green

The after image shows the inverse of the color

Visual Capture

The tendency for vision to dominate other senses.
Watching a roller coaster on a screen, we brace ourselves even though our other senses tell us we're not moving


An organized whole

Gestalt Psychologists

emphasize our tendency to integrate pieces of information into meaningful wholes

Binocular Depth Cue

Depends on two eyes

Monocular Depth Cue

Depends on one eye

Retinal Disparity

A binocular cue for perceiving depth: By comparing images from the 2 eyes, the brain computes distance - the greater the disparity (difference) between the two images, the closer the object


A binocular cue for perceiving depth; the extent to which the eyes converge inward when looking at an object

Relative Size

(Monocular cue) if we assume that 2 objects are the similar size, we perceive the one that casts smaller retinal images as farther away


(Monocular cue) If one object partially blocks our view of another, we perceive it as closer

Relative Clarity

(Monocular cue) because light from distant objects passes through more atmosphere, we perceive hazy objects as farther away than sharp, clear ones

Texture Gradient

(Monocular cue) a gradual change from a coarse, distinct texture to a fine, indistinct one signals increasing distance

Relative Height

(Monocular cue) we perceive objects higher in our FOV as farther away

Relative Motion

(Monocular cue) as we move, objects that are actually stable may appear to move
-Objects beyond the fixation point appear to move with you. The farther away it is, the slower it's apparent speed

Linear Perspective

(Monocular cue) parallel lines appear to converge with distance

Stroboscopic Movement

The brain interprets a rapid series of slightly carrying images as moving

Light and Shadow

(Monocular cue) nearby objects reflect more light to our eyes so if you have two objects, the dimmer one seems farther away.

Phi Phenomenon

an illusion of movement created when two or more adjacent lights blink on and off in succession

Lightness/brightness constancy

We perceive an object as having a constant lightness even while its illumination varies
Perceived lightness depends on relative luminance - the amount of light an object reflects relative to its surroundings


we group nearby figures together


figures similar to each other we group together


we perceive smooth, continuous patters rather than discontinuous ones


when they are uniform and linked, we perceive spots, lines, or areas as a single unit


we fill in gaps to create a complete, whole object

Visual Cliff

a laboratory device for testing depth perception in infants and young animals

Depth Perception

the ability to see objects in three dimensions although the images that strike the retina are two-dimensional; allows us to judge distance

Vestibular Sense

a sensory system located in structures of the inner ear that registers body movement and position


The position and movement of individual body parts


Occurs when molecules of what you are smelling reach receptor cells at the top of each nasal cavity

Perceptual Adaptation

in vision, the ability to adjust to an artificially displaced or even inverted visual field

Perceptual Set

Predisposition to see one thing rather than another

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