Psych Midterm 1 - Sensory And Perception

Psych 100  
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detection of physical energy by sense organs, which then send information to the brain


the brain’s interpretation of raw sensory inputs

the process of converting an external energy or substance into neural activity

Sense receptor
specialized cell responsible for converting external stimuli into neural activity for specific sensory system

Absolute threshold
lowest level of stimulus needed for the nervous system to detect
to change 50% of the time

Just noticeable difference (JND
smallest change in the intensity of a stimulus
that we can detect

Subliminal persuasion

subthreshold influences over our product choices

Perceptual constancy
the process by which we perceive stimuli consistently across varied conditions

Signal detection theory
describes how we detect stimuli under certain conditions
signal to noise ratio

Parallel Processing

ability to attend to many sense perceptions at once

Bottom-up Processing

processing in which the whole is constructed with parts

Top-Down Processing

processing driven by theory, beliefs or expectations

Perceptual Sets

sets formed when expectations influence perceptions

Perceptual Constancy
process by which we perceive stimuli consistently across
varied conditions

Inattentional Blindness
failure to detect stimuli that are in plain sight when our attention is focused elsewhere
Gorilla in the basketball video

Selective attention
process of selecting one sensory channel and ignoring or minimizing others


intensity of reflecting light that reaches our eyes


color of light


eye parts containing transparent cells that focus light on the retina


eye part that changes curvature to keep images in focus


changing the shape of the lends to focus on objects near or far

membrane at the back of the eye responsible for converting light into neural


central portion of the retina


sharpness of vision


receptor cells in the retina allowing us to see in low levels of light

Ganglion cells:

Only cells in the retinal circuit that contain axons

Blind spot
part of the visual field we can’t see because of the absence of rods and


Receptor cells in the retina allowing us to see in color

Optic nerve
contains the axons of ganglion cells; travels from the retina to the rest
of the brain

Feature detection

ability to use certain minimal patterns to identify objects

Subjective contours

brains provide missing information about outlines

Gestalt principles
rules governing how we perceive objects as wholes within their
own context

Objects physically close to each other tend to be seen as unified


Similar objects are seen as comprising a whole

We still perceive objects as wholes, even if other objects block part
of them

When partial visual information is present, the mind fills in what’s


we see objects that are symmetrically arranged as wholes

we make an instant decision to focus attention on what we think
is the central figure and largely ignore what we think is the background

Trichromatic theory

ideas that color vision is based on our sensitivity to 3D colors

Color blindness

inability to see some or all colors

Motion blindness
a serious disorder in which patients can’t seamlessly string still
images processed by their brains into the perception of ongoing motion

Depth perception

ability to judge distance and 3D relations

Monocular depth cues

stimuli that enable us to judge depth using only one eye

Binocular depth cues

stimuli that enable us to judge depth using both eyes

Moon illusion, Ames room, Muller-Lyer illusion, Ponzo illusion, horizontalvertical
illusion, Ebbinghaus-Titchener illusion

Change blindness:
we are poor at detecting obvious changes in complex, moving

condition in which people experience cross-modal sensations like
hearing sounds when they see colors or even tasting colors

Visual agnosia

deficit in perceiving objects

when people with cortical blindness can make correct guesses about
things in their environment, even when they can’t see them


our sense of hearing


frequency of the sound wave (higher frequency means higher pitch)


amplitude/height of the sound wave


quality/complexity of the sound


bony, spiral-shaped sense organ used for hearing

Organ of Corti:

tissue containing the hair cells needed for hearing

Basilar membrane
membrane supporting the organ of Corti and hair cells in the

Pitch perception

Place theory, frequency theory

Localization of sound
various brain centers localize sounds with respect to our bodies binaural cues, sound shadow

emitting sounds and listen to the echoes to determine their distance from a barrier

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