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Chapter 4

Sensation = stimulation of sense organs

o Involves absorption of energy such as light or sound waves by sensory
organs like eyes and ears
Perception = selection, organization and interpretation of sensory output
o Involves organizing and translating sensory input into something
meaningful such as your best friends face
Psychophysics = study of how physical stimuli are translated into psychological
o Gustav Fechner (Germany)
Threshold = dividing point between energy levels that do and do not have a
detectable effect
o For any given sense, what is the weakest detectable stimulus?
o Absolute threshold = for a specific type of sensory input, is the minimum
amount of stimulation that an organism can detect
Define boundaries of an organisms sensory capabilities
Anything but absolute
As stimulus intensity increases, subjects probability of responding
to stimuli gradually increases
TABLE 4.1 on page 139
JND = Just noticeable difference
o Smallest difference in the amount of stimulation that a specific sense can
o Introduced by Fechners brother in law Ernst Weber
Webers Law = the size of a JND is a constant proportion of the size of the initial
o The constant proportion is called the Weber fraction
o As the stimulus increases in magnitude, the JND becomes larger
Fechners Law = The magnitude of a sensory experience is proportional to the
number of JNDs that the stimulus causing the experience is above the absolute
o Constant increments in stimulus intensity produce smaller and smaller
increases in the perceived magnitude of sensation
Youre in a dark room with a lamp with three bulbs. Turn first bulb
on, difference is striking. Second bulb on, the amount of light is
doubled but the room does not seem to be twice as bright.
In the domain of sensory experience, virtually everything is relative
Signal Detection Theory = the detection of stimuli involves decision processes as
well as sensory processes which are both influenced by a variety of factors
besides stimulus intensity
o Hit, miss, false alarm, correct rejection
o Your performance will also depend on level of noise in the system

Lens focuses light rays falling on the retina

Nearsightedness focus of light from distant objects falls a little short of the
retina. The cornea or lens bens the light too much or the eyeball is too long
Farsightedness Focus of light from close object falls behind the retina
Pupil opening in the centre of the iris. Helps regulate the amount of light
passing into the rear chamber of the eye
Saccades eye movements
Retina neural tissue lining the inside back surface of the eye. It absorbs light,
processes images and sends visual info to the brain
Optic disk = blind spot
100-125 million rods, 5-6.4 million cones
Cones daylight vision, colour vision
o Provide better visual acuity (sharpness and precise detail)
Fovea small spot in centre of retina that contains only cones. Visual acuity is
greatest here.
Rods night vision and peripheral vision
Visual agnosia inability to recognize images
Prosopagnosia inability to recognize familiar faces
Trichromatic theory of colour human eye has three types of receptors with
differing sensitivities to different light wavelengths
Bottom up vs top down processing page 159