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1• Sensation- process where our sensory receptors and nervous system receive &

represent stimulus energies from our environment Perception- process of organizing

& interpreting sensory info, enables to recognize meaningful objects and events

2• Bottom-up processing- analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works
upto the brain’s integration of sensory info. [ex. 1st looking at the details then
concluding the object to be something]

3• Top-down processing- information processing guided by higher-level mental process,

as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectation [ex. 1st
given the object then looking at the details]

4• Psychophysics- the study of relationship between the physics characteristics of

stimuli, such as intensity, and our psychological experience of them

5• Absolute threshold- the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus

50% of time

6• Difference threshold- the minimum difference between two stimuli required for
detection 50% of the time aka JND- just noticeable difference

7• Signal detection theory- predicts how and when we detect the presence of a faint
stimulus (signal) amid background stimulation (noise). Assumes there is no single
absolute threshold and that detection depends party on a person’s experience,
expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue

8• Subliminal- below one’s absolute threshold for conscious awareness

9• Prime- activation, often unconsciously, of certain associations, thus predisposing

one’s perception, memory, or response

10• Weber’s law- principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by
a constant minimum percentage, rather than a constant amount

11• Sensory adaptation- diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant


12• Transduction- conversion of one form of energy into another. In sensation, stimulus
energies, such as sights, sounds, smells, are transformed into neural impulses that
brains can interpret

13• Wavelength- distance from peak of one light or sound wave to the peak of the
next, electromagnetic wavelengths vary from the short blips of cosmic rays to the long
pulses of radio transmission

14• Hue- dimension of color that is determined by the wavelength of light—what we

know as color names such as blue and green
15• Intensity- the amount of energy in light of sound wave, which we perceive as
brightness or loudness, as determined by the waves amplitude

16• Pupil- the adjustable opening in the center of the ye through which light enters

17• Iris- ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye around the
pupil and controls the size of the pupil opening

18• Retina- the light-sensitive inner surface of the eye, containing the receptor rods
and cones plus layers of neurons that begin the processing of visual information

19• Lens- the transparent structure behind the pupil that changes shape to help focus
images on the retina

20• Accommodation- process where eye’s lenses changes shape to help focus image on
the retina

21• Acuity- sharpness of vision

22• Nearsightedness- nearby objects are seen more clearly that distant objects bc
distant objects focus in front of the retina

23• Farsightedness- far away objects are seen more clearly that nearby objects bc
image of near objects is focused behind the retina

24• Rods- retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray. Necessary for peripheral
and twilight vision, when cones don’t respond

25• Cones- retinal receptor cells that are concentrated near the center of the retina and
that function in daylight or in well-lit conditions. Detects fine detail and give rise to
color sensation

26• Optic nerve- carries neural impulses from eye to brain

27• Blind spot- point where the optic nerve leaves the eye; no receptor cells are located

28• Fovea- central focal point in the retina, around which the eye’s cones cluster

29• Parallel processing- brain’s natural mode of information processing for many
functions, including vision—contrasts with the step by step processing

30• Young-Helmholtz trichromatic theory- says that the retina contains three different
color receptors: one most sensitive to red, one to green, one to blue, which when
stimulated in combination can produce the perception of any color

31• Opponent-processing theory¬- theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green,

yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision. [ex. Some cells are stimulated by green
and inhibited by red, vise versa]
32• Color constancy- perceiving familiar objects as having consistent color, even if
changing illumination alters the wavelengths reflected by the object [ex. Leaf stays
green and branch stays brown even though they both reflect the same light energy]

33• Audition- the sense or act of hearing

34• Frequency- number of complete wavelengths that pass a point in a given time
[ex.per second]

35• Pitch- a tone’s experienced highness or lowness; depends on frequency

36• Inner ear- the innermost part of the ear, containing the cochlea, semicircular
canals and vestibular sacs

38• Cochlea- a coiled, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear where sound waves trigger
nerve impulses

39• Middle ear- the chamber between the eardrum and cochlea containing three tiny
bones (hammer, anvil, & stirrup) that concentrate the vibrations of the eardrum on the
cochlea’s oval window

39• Place theory- presumes that we hear different pitches bc different sound waves
trigger activity at different places along the cochlea’s basilar membrane [credit to
Hermann von Helmholtz]

40• Frequency theory- alternative explanation for how we detect pitch, that the rate of
nerve impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, thus
enabling sense of pitch

41• Conduction hearing loss- hearing loss caused by damage to the mechanical sytem
that conducts sounds waves to the cochlea

42• Sensorineural hearing loss- hearing loss caused by damage to the cochlea’s
receptor cell or to the auditory nerves aka nerve deafness

43• Cochlear implant- a device for converting sounds into electrical signals and
stimulating the auditory nerve through electrodes threaded into the cochlea

44• Gate-control theory- theory that the spinal cord contains a neurological “gate” that
blocks pain signals or allows them to pass on to the brain. The “gate” is opened by the
activity of pain signals traveling up small nerve fibers and is closed by activity in larger
fibers or by information coming from the brain

45• Sensory interaction- the principle that one sense may influence another, as when
the smell of food influences its taste

46• Kinesthesis- the system for sensing the position and movement of individual body
47• Vestibular sense- sense of body movement and position, including the sense of