Like this study set? Create a free account to save it.

Sign up for an account

Already have a Quizlet account? .

Create an account

Sensation and Perception


The process by which stimulation of a sensory receptor produces neural impulses that the brain interprets.


the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events.


conversion of one form of energy into another. In sensation, the transforming of stimulus energies, such as sights, sounds, and smells, into neural impulses our brains can interpret.

sensory adaptation

reduced responsiveness caused by prolonged stimulation

absolute threshold

minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time

difference threshold

the smallest change in stimulation that a person can detect 50% of the time

Weber's Law

the principle which states that the difference threshold is proportional to the intensity of the stimulus

signal detection theory

a theory predicting how and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus ("signal") amid background stimulation ("noise"). Assumes there is no single absolute threshold and detection depends partly on a person's experience, expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue.


the light-sensitive membrane covering the back wall of the eyeball


The light-sensitive cells in the retina- the rods and cones.


retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray; necessary for peripheral and twilight vision, when cones don't respond


retinal receptor cells that are concentrated near the center of the retina and that function in daylight or in well-lit conditions. They detect fine detail and give rise to color sensations.


the central focal point in the retina, around which the eye's cones cluster

optic nerve

the cranial nerve that serves the retina

blind spot

the point where the optic nerve enters the retina (contains no rods or cones)


A psychological sensation caused by the intensity of light waves.


Also called hue, it is not a property of things in the external world. It is a psychological sensation created by the brain from information obtained by the eyes from light waves of visible light.

visible spectrum

The tiny range of the electromagnetic spectrum that people can see.

trichromatic theory

idea that color vision is based on our sensitivity to three different colors: blue, green, and red

opponent process theory

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


sensations that linger after the stimulus is removed. Most visual afterimages are negative afterimages, which appear in reversed colors.

color blindness

a variety of (usually genetic) disorders marked by inability to distinguish some or all colors

electromagnetic spectrum

arrangement of electromagnetic radiation--including radio waves, visible light from the Sun, gamma rays, X rays, ultraviolet waves, infrared waves, and microwaves--according to their wavelengths


the number of complete wavelengths that pass a point in a given time (usually one second)


the height of a wave's crest (usually measured from crest to trough - top to bottom)

Tympanic Membrane

the eardrum - a tightly stretched sheet of tissue that transfers vibrations to the bones of the inner ear.


a coiled, snail shaped, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear through which sound waves trigger nerve impulses

basilar membrane

A structure that runs the length of the cochlea in the inner ear and holds the auditory receptors, called hair cells.


the property of sound that varies with variation in the frequency of vibration (how high or low the sound is)


perception of sound intensity produced by amplitude of the wave


The quality of a sound, as distinguished from intensity and pitch. It comes from the sound waves complexity.

conduction deafness

hearing loss due to problems with the bones of the middle ear

nerve deafness

hearing loss due to failure of the auditory nerve

vestibular sense

the sense of body movement and position, including the sense of balance. It is closely associated with the inner ear.

kinesthetic sense

the sense of body position and movement of body parts relative to each other


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.


The sense of taste.

skin senses

sensory senses for processing touch, warmth, cold, texture, and pain

Gate control theory

theory that spinal cord contains neurological gate that blocks pains signals or allows them to pass.

placebo effect

a change in a participant's illness or behavior that results from a belief that the treatment will have an effect, rather than the actual treatment


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

feature detectors

nerve cells in the brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement

binding problem

question of how the visual, auditory, and other areas of the brain influence one another to produce a combined perception of a single object

bottom up processing

analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information

top down processing

information processing guided by higher-level mental processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectations

perceptual constancy

perceiving objects as unchanging (having consistent lightness, color, shape, and size) even as illumination and retinal images change


a false perception

ambiguous figures

images that are capable of more than one interpretation.

gestalt psychology

a psychological approach that emphasizes that we often perceive the whole rather than the sum of the parts. Believed that much of perception is caused by innate characteristics of the brain.


the part of a pattern that commands attention


the part of a pattern that does not command attention - A.K.A. the background


a Gestalt principle of organization holding that there is an innate tendency to perceive incomplete objects as complete and to close or fill gaps and to perceive asymmetric stimuli as symmetric

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

a Getalt principle of organization holding that (other things being equal) parts of a stimulus field that are similar to each other tend to be perceived as belonging together as a unit

law of proximity

a Gestalt principle of organization holding that (other things being equal) objects or events that are near to one another (in space or time) are perceived as belonging together as a unit

law of continuity

The 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 Gestalt principle that the simplest organization requiring the least cognitive effort will emerge as the figure

binocular cues

depth cues, such as retinal disparity and convergence, that depend on the use of two eyes

monocular cues

depth cues, such as interposition and linear perspective, available to either eye alone

learning based inference

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

perceptual set

A mental readiness to perceive a stimulus in a particular way in a given context

Flickr Creative Commons Images

Some images used in this set are licensed under the Creative Commons through
Click to see the original works with their full license.

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

Voice Recording