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7 Retina – located at the very back of the eyeball,

SENSATION is a thin film that contains cells that are
DEFINITIONS: extremely sensitive to light. These light-sensitive
cells, called photoreceptors, begin the process
1. Transduction – refers to the process in which a sense
of transduction by absorbing light waves
organ changes or transforms, physical energy into
electric signals that became neural impulses which
2. Eyeball
may be sent to the brain for processing
2. Adaptation – refers to the decreasing response of
2.1 Normal vision – the shape of the eyeball is
the sense organ, the move they are exposed to a
primarily determined by genetic instruction. If the
continuous level of stimulation
eyeball is shaped so that the objects are perfectly
3. Sensation vs. Perception
focused on the back of the retina, then both the near
 Sensations are relatively meaningless bits of and distant objects will appear clear and sharp
information that result when the brain
(20/20 vision)
processes electrical signals that come from
2.2 Nearsightedness (myopia) – results when the
the sense organ
eyeball is too long so that objects are focused at a
 Perceptions are meaningful sensory point in front of the retina
experience that result after the brain 2.3 Farsightedness (hyperopia) – occurs when the
combines hundreds of sensations eyeball is too short so that objects are focused at a
point slightly behind the retina
2.4 Eye surgery. Currently, a popular and successful
 Stimulus: Light waves treatment to correct vision is called LASIK. In this
The Visible Spectrum is one particular segment of procedure, the surface of the eye is folded back and
electromagnetic energy that we can see because a laser is used to reshape the exposed cornea so that
these waves are the right length to stimulate light waves are correctly bent and focused on the
receptors in the eye retina (Gallin, 2018).

1. Structure and Function 3. Retina

1.1 Image reversed 3.1 The retina has three layers of cells. The back
1.2 Light waves layer contains two kinds of photoreceptors
1.3 Cornea – is the rounded, transparent covering that begin the process of transduction,
over the front of the eye. As the light waves pass changing light waves into electrical signal
through then cornea, its curved surface bends or 3.2 One kind of photoreceptors with a rod like
focuses, the waves into a narrower beam shape is called a rod and is located primarily
1.4 Pupil – is a round opening at the front of the eye in the periphery of the retina
that allows light waves to pass into the eye’s 3.3 The other photoreceptor with a cone like
interior shape is called a cone and is located
1.5 Iris – is a circular muscle that surrounds the pupil primarily at the center of the retina in an
and controls the amount of light entering the area called the fovea
eye. The iris muscles contain the pigment that 3.4 Process:
gives your eyes its characteristic color A. Each eye has about 120 million rods,
1.6 Lens – is a transparent, oval structure whose most located in the retina’s periphery.
curved surface bends and focuses light waves RODS are photoreceptors that contain a
into an even narrower beam. The lens is single chemical, called rhodopsin, which
attached to muscles that adjust the curve of the is activated by small amounts of light.
lens, which in turn, adjusts the focusing Because rods are extremely light
sensitive, they allow us to see in dim
light, but to see only black, white, and sensations. Researchers estimate that about 25% of
shades of gray the entire cortex is devoted to processing visual
To see color, we need the cones. Each information, more area that to any other sensory
eye has about 6 million cones, most input (Goldstein, 2010). The visual cortex contains
located in the retina’s fovea (Goldstein, many different cells that respond to many different
2010). kinds of visual stimulation.
CONES are photoreceptors that contain
three chemicals called opsins, which are
activated in bright light and allow us to *Specialized cells. From the Nobel Prize- winning
see colors. Unlike rods, cones are wired research of David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel (1979),
individually to neighboring calls; this we know that different cells in the primary visual
one-on-one system of relaying cortex respond to specific kinds of visual stimuli.
information allows us to see fine details.  For example, some cortical cells respond to
lines of a particular width, others to lines at
B. The process of transduction begins a particular angle, and still others to lines
when chemical in the rods and cones moving in a particular direction. These
break down after absorbing light waves. specialized cortical cells transform different
This chemical breakdown generates a stimuli into simple visual sensations, such as
tiny electrical force that, if large enough, shadows, lines, textures, or angles.
triggers nerve impulse in neighboring
ganglion cells; now, transduction is *Blindness. If part of your primary visual cortex were
complete. damaged, you would have a blind spot in the visual
field, similar to looking through glasses with tiny
C. Nerve impulse generated in ganglion black spots painted on the lens. Damage to the
cells exit the back of the eye through the entire primary visual cortex in both hemispheres
optic nerve, which carries impulses would result in almost total blindness; the ability to
toward the brain. The point where the tell night from day might remain.
optic nerve exits the eye has no However, to make sense of what you see, nerve
receptors and is called the blind spot. impulse must be sent from the primary visual cortex
You don’t notice the blind spot because to neighboring visual association areas.
your eyes are continually moving.
3. VISUAL ASSOCIATION AREAS. The primary visual
Visual Pathways: Eye to Brain
cortex sends simple visual sensations (impulses) to
1. OPTIC NERVE. Nerve impulses flow through the optic neighboring association areas, which add meaning
nerve as it exits from the back of the eye. This exit or associations (Kiernan, 2008). In our example, the
point creates a blind spot that we dot normally see association area receives sensations of texture, line,
because our eyes are constantly moving and cover movement, orientation and color and assembles
any areas that might be in the blind spot. The optic them into a meaningful image.
nerves partially cross over and make a major step in
the thalamus, which does some initial processing. If part of your visual association area were damaged,
The thalamus relays the impulses to the back of the you would experience visual agnosia, which is
occipital lobe in the right and left hemispheres. difficulty in assembling simple visual sensations into
more complex, meaningful images
2. PRIMARY VISUAL CORTEX. At the very back of each (Ropper&Samuels, 2009). For instance, a person
occipital lobe lies a primary visual cortex, which with visual agnosia could see pieces of things but
transforms nerve impulses into simple visual would have difficulty combining pieces and
sensations, such as texture, lines and colors. At this recognizing them as whole, meaningful objects.
point, you would report seeing only these basic
The visual association areas are involved, such as 3. Our visual system transforms light waves of various
reading, writing, and perceiving objects, animals, lengths into millions of different colors. We see
people, and colors (Gaillard et al., 2006; Storbeck et shorter wavelengths as shades of violet, blue and
al., 2006) green and longer wavelengths as shades of yellow,
Researchers can use brain scans to show actual orange and red (Silbernagl & Despoulous, 2008).
neural activity that is occurring in the visual You see an apple as red because the apple reflects
association areas. longer light waves, which your brain interprets as
red. Actually, how our visual system transform light
waves into color is explained by two different
What is red?
Debra was born with opaque films over her lenses (cataracts) that
Thomas Young. (British physicist)
made her almost totally blind. For her first 28 years, she could tell
night from day but see little else. When a newly developed
The trichromatic theory says that there are three
operation restored much of her vision, she cried with delight as she different kinds of cones in the retina, and each cone
looked around her hospital room and saw things she had only contains one of these different light-sensitive
imagined. “Colors were a real surprise to me,” Debra said. “They chemicals called opsins. Each of the three opsins is
were so bright. You can’t conceive what colors are until you’ve most responsive to each of the three primary colors:
seen them. I couldn’t imagine what a red apple looked like and now blue, green and red.
I can hold one and actually see red” (San Diego Tribune, April 3,
Like Debra, you might assume that a red apple is really red, but you An after image is a visual sensation that continues
are about to discover otherwise. Objects, such as a red apple, do after the original stimulus is removed.
not have colors. Instead, objects reflect light waves whose
different wavelengths are transformed by your visual system into The opponent-process theory says that ganglion
the experience of seeing colors. So what is red? The answer is that cells in the retina and cells in the thalamus of the
the color red is actually produced by a certain kind of wavelength. brain respond to two pairs of colors – red-green and
blue-yellow. When these cells are excited, they
respond to one color of the pair; when inhibited,
 How light waves are turned into millions of colors is they respond to the complementary pair.
a wondrous and interesting process, which begins
with a ray of sunlight. Color blindness is the inability to distinguish two or
more shades in the color spectrum.

Making Colors from Wavelength  Monochromats have total color blindness;

1. A ray of sunlight is called white light because it their world look like black-and-white
contains all the light wave in the visible spectrum, movies. This kind of color blindness is rare
which is what humans can see. and results from individuals having only rods
or only one kind of functioning cone instead
2. As white light passes through a prism, it is separated of three.
into light waves that vary in length. Nature creates
prisms in the form of raindrops, which separate the  Dichromats usually have trouble
passing sunlight into waves of different lengths, distinguishing red from green because they
creating a spectrum of colors that we call a rainbow. have just two kind of cones. This is an
inherited genetic defect, found mostly in
males, that results in seeing mostly shades
of blue and yellow but differs in severity
(Gerl & Morris, 2008)
II. EAR: AUDITION  Low frequency means sound waves are
apart, resulting in low sound or pitch.
Sound waves which are the stimuli for hearing (audition), Low notes. Striking the bottom key on a
resemble ripples of different sizes. Similar to ripples on a keyboard produces sound waves that travel
pond, sound waves travel though space with varying heights slowly and are described as having low
and frequency. Height, which is the distance from the frequency. The brain interprets low
bottom to the top of a sound wave, is called amplitude. frequency as low notes or low pitch.
Frequency refers to the number of sound waves that occur
within | second.  Relationship: frequency and pitch. When you hear a
sound, your auditory system automatically uses
frequency to calculate pitch (Barrett et al., 2009)
AMPLITUDE AND LOUDNESS  Pitch is our subjective experience of a sound being
high or low, which the brain calculates from specific
 Yell. As a cheerleader yells, she lets out an enormous
physical stimuli, in this case the speed or frequency
amount of air that is compressed and expanded into
of sound waves. the frequency of sound waves is
very large travelling waves. Large sound waves are
measured in cycles, which refers to how many sound
described as having high amplitude, which the brain
waves occur within | seconds
interpret as loud sounds.
 Hearing range. Humans hear sounds within only a
 Whisper. As a child whispers a secret to his friend,
certain range of frequencies and this range
he lets out a small amount of air that is compressed
decreases with age
and expanded into very small traveling waves, which
the brain interprets as a soft sound.

 Relationship: amplitude and loudness. You have no Measuring Sound Waves

difficulty distinguishing between yell and whisper A decibel is a unit to measure loudness, just as an inch is
because your auditory system automatically uses the a measure of length. Our threshold for hearing ranges
amplitude of the sound waves to calculate loudness from 0 decibels, which is absolutely no sound, to 140
(Barrett et al., 2009) decibels, which can produce pain and permanent
 Loudness is your subjective experience of a sound’s hearing loss.
intensity. The brain calculates loudness from specific
physical energy, in this case the amplitude of sound Decibels and Deafness. It is well established that
waves. continuous exposure to sounds with higher decibel levels
(over 85 dB) for certain periods of time can produce
permanent hearing loss (B. Healy, 2007)

 Screech or boom. As you listen to someone playing

a keyboard, you can tell the difference between high OUTER, MIDDLE AND INNER EAR
and low notes because your brain is continually 1. OUTER EAR
discriminating between high and low sounds, which 1.1 The only reason your ear has that peculiar shape
is called pitch. and sticks out from the side of your head is to
 High frequency means sound waves are gather sound waves. Thus, sound waves
close together, resulting in high sound or produced by the Rolling Stones are gathered by
pitch. your outer ear.
High notes. Striking the top on a keyboard 1.2 The outer ear consists of three structures:
produces sound waves that travels rapidly external ear, auditory canal, and tympanic
and are described as having a high membrane.
frequency. The brain interprets high  Auditory canal is a long tube that funnels
frequency as high notes or high pitch. sound waves down its length so that the
waves strike a thin, taut membrane – the  Transduction – transforming vibrations into
eardrum, or tympanic membrane nerve impulses that are sent to the brain for
processing into auditory information.
 Tympanic membrane is a taut, thin  The cochlea consists of two long narrow
structure commonly called eardrum. Sound tubes separated by membranes (basilar and
waves strike the tympanic membrane and tectorial) but joined together and rolled up
cause it to vibrate. The tympanic membrane or coiled.
passes the vibrations on the first of three  The beginning of the coiled compartments is
small bones to which it is attached. sealed by a membrane, the oval window.
1.3 The external ear is an oval-shaped structure that  So when the ossicles vibrate the oval
protrudes from the side of the head. The window, it vibrates the fluid in the cochlea’s
function of the external ear is to pick sound tubes, where the auditory receptors are
waves and send them down a long, narrow located.
tunnel called the auditory canal.
3.3 The auditory receptor, called hair cells, are
2. MIDDLE EAR miniature hair-shaped cells that stick up from
2.1 The middle ear functions like a radio’s amplifier; the cochlea’s bottom membrane, called the
it picks up and increases, or amplifies, vibrations. basilar membrane.
2.2 The middle ear is a bony cavity that is sealed at  Vibration of fluid in the cochlear tubes
each end by membranes. The two membranes causes movement of the basilar membrane,
are connected by three small bones. which literally bends the hair cells.
2.3 The three tiny bones are collectively called  The mechanical bending of the hair cells
ossicles and because of their shape, are referred generated miniature electrical forces that, if
to as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. large enough, trigger nerve impulses
 Hammer is attached to the back of tympanic (transduction)
membrane. When the tympanic membrane
vibrates, so does the hammer. In turn, the 4. SENSATIONS AND PERCEPTION
hummer sends the vibrations to the 4.1 After nerve impulses reach the brain, a two-step
attached process occurs in which nerve impulses are
 Anvil, which further sends the vibrations to transformed first into meaningless bits of sounds
the attached stirrup. and then into meaningful sounds.
 Stirrup makes the connection with the end 4.2 The primary auditory cortex, which is located at
membrane, the oval window the top edge of the temporal lobe, transforms
nerve impulses (electrical signals) into basic
2.4 The three ossicles act like levers that greatly auditory sensations, such as meaningless sounds
amplify the vibrations, which in turn, cause the and tones of various pitches and loudness.
attached oval window to vibrate 4.3 The auditory association area receives
meaningless auditory sensations in the form of
3. INNER EAR neural impulses from the neighboring primary
3.1 The inner ear contains two main structures that auditory cortex. The auditory association area
are sealed in bony cavities: the cochlea, which is combines meaningless auditory sensations into
involved in hearing, and the vestibular system, perceptions, which are meaningful melodies,
which is involved in balance. songs, words, or sentences.
3.2 The cochlea located in the inner ear, has a bony
coiled exterior that resembles a snail’s shell. It
contains the receptors for hearing and its
function is
A sound coming from the right reaches the left ear.
The brain automatically interprets this difference in  The vestibular system, which is located above the
timing as a signal that the source of the sound is to cochlea in the inner ear, includes three semi-circular
the right. You will automatically turn your head to canals, resembling bony arches, which are set of
the right, to the source of the sound different angles.
 Each of the semi-circular canals is filled with fluid
2. Time difference that moves in response to movements of your head.
Sound waves reach the left ear this much later than  In the canals, hair cells that respond to the
they reach the right ear. movement of the fluid.
 The functions of the vestibular system include
sensing the position of the head, keeping the head
Calculating Direction
upright and maintaining balance.
The brain determines the direction of the sound by
calculating the slight difference in time that it takes sound
waves to reach the two ear, which are about six inches apart
(Goldstein, 2010)  Motion sickness, which consists of feelings of
discomfort, nausea and dizziness in a moving vehicle,
is believed to develop when there is a sensory
Calculating Pitch mismatch between the information from the
vestibular system – that your head is physically
The subjective experience of a sound being high or low is bouncing around – and the information reported by
referred to as pitch. Exactly how the cochlea codes pitch and your eyes – that objects in the distance look fairly
the brain interprets the code is rather complicated. steady.
 The frequency theory which applies only to
low-pitched sounds, says that the rate at MENIERE’S DISEASE and VERTIGO
which nerve impulses reach the brain
determines how low the pitch of a sound is.  Meniere’s disease results from a malfunction of the
 The place theory says that the brain semicircular canals of the vestibular system.
determines medium- to higher-pitched Symptoms include attacks of dizziness, nausea,
sounds on the basis of the place on the vomiting, spinning, and piercing buzzing sounds.
basilar membrane where maximum  Vertigo, whose symptoms are dizziness and nausea,
vibration occurs. results from malfunction of the semicircular canals
of the vestibular system.

Calculating Loudness

The brain calculates loudness primarily from the frequency

or rate of how fast or how slowly nerve impulses arrive from
the auditory nerve.
IV. CHEMICAL CHANGES 3.3 Taste buds live in a relatively toxic environment
and are continuously exposed to heat, cold,
TASTE spices, bacteria and saliva. As a result, taste buds
wear out and are replaced about every ten days.
 Taste is called a chemical sense because the stimuli
3.4 The human tongue can have as many as 10,000
are various chemicals. On the surface of the tongue
taste buds and as few as 500; the number
are receptors, called taste buds, for five basic tastes:
remains constant throughout like (Goldstein,
sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. The function
of taste buds is to perform transduction, which
means transforming chemical reactions into nerve
4. All Tongues Are Not the Same
4.1 In rare cases, individuals are born without any
taste buds and cannot taste anything because
they have a genetically determined disorder
1. Tongue: Five Basic Tastes
(Mass et al., 2005)
1.1 Four basic tastes - sweet, salty, bitter and sour.
4.2 In contrast, about 35% of women and 15% of
There now appears to be a fifth called umami, a
men are supertasters, which means they have at
meaty-cheesy taste found in cheese, meat, pizza
least twice as many taste buds as normal, which
and MSG (A. Gilbert, 2008)
results in increased sensitivity to sweet, bitter,
1.2 The reason many of us have a sweet tooth is
sour and salty (Bartoshuk, 2006)
that, as newborn, we inherited an innate
4.3 For example, supertasters would be better able
preference for sweet and salty (Netting, 2001)
to identify unsafe food and toxins, such as
1.3 Like animals, humans avoid bitter- tasting
whether fruits or berries are poisonous
substances, presumably because many
(Bartoshuk, 1997; BBC, 2008b)
poisonous substances taste bitter (Barinaga,
4.4 Today, supertasters may work for food
manufacturers and rate the tastes of new food
1.4 Tasting begins with what happens in the
trenches on the surface of the tongue.
4.5 Our ability to taste is greatly affected by our
ability to smell.
2. Surface of the Tongue
2.1 As you chew the lemon, its chemical, which are
5. Flavor: Taste and Smell
the stimuli for taste, break down into molecules.
5.1 If taste receptors are sensitive to only five basic
2.2 In turn, these molecules mix with saliva and run
tastes, how can you tell the difference between
down into narrow trenches on the surface of the
two sweet taste, such as a brownie and vanilla
ice cream, or between two sour tastes, such as
2.3 Once inside the trenches, the molecules
lemon juice and vinegar? The truth is that a
stimulate the taste buds.
considerable percentage of the sensations we
3. Taste Buds
attribute to taste are actually contributed by our
3.1 Buried in the trenches on the surface of the
sense of smell (A. Gilbert, 2008)
tongue are many hundreds of bulblike taste
5.2 we experience flavor when we combine the
sensations pf taste and smell.
3.2 Taste buds, which are shaped like miniature
5.3 You have no doubt experienced the limitations
onions, are the receptors for taste. Chemical
of your taste buds’ abilities when you had a cold,
dissolved in the saliva activate the taste buds,
which blocks the nasal passages and cuts out the
which produce nerve impulses that eventually
sense of smell. Without smell, foods we usually
reach areas in the brain’s parietal lobe. The brain
love now tastes very bland.
transforms these nerve impulses into sensations
5.4 our taste of foods is greatly enhanced by the
of taste.
sense of smell.
SMELL OR OLFACTION Although we can identify as many as 10,000 different
odors, we soon stop smelling scents we are
 You have been impressed that your tongue has up to
repeatedly exposed to (deodorants, perfumes)
10,000 taste buds but that number pales in
because of decreased responding, called
comparison to the nose’s millions of receptor cells
adaptation, in the olfactory cells (Jacob et al., 2006)
(Ganong, 2005; Glausiusz, 2008)
Smell, in terms of evolution, is a very primitive sense
 That’s why the sense of smell (olfaction) is 10,000 and has important functions.
times more sensitive than taste (Lindstrom, 2005)
 OLFACTION is called a chemical sense because its D. FUNCTIONS OF OLFACTION
stimuli are various chemicals that are carried by the 1. To intensify the taste of food. For example, you
air. The upper part of the nose has a small area that could not tell a licorice from an orange jelly bean
contains receptors cell for olfaction. with your nose held closed.
 The function of the olfactory receptors is 2. To warn of potentially dangerous food; the
transduction, to transform chemical reactions into repulsive odor of spoiled or rotten food does this
nerve impulses. very effectively
3. To elicit strong memories. Often associated with
A. STIMULUS. emotional feelings. For example, the smell of
 A volatile substance is one that can release pumpkin pie may remind you of a family
molecules in the air at room temperature. gathering (Ropper & Samuels, 2009)
For example, volatile substances include 4. To aid us in choosing a mate. We know that for
skunk spray, perfumes, and warm brownies, many animals smells function to locate mates as
but not glass or steel. We can smell only well as food and territory. Recent research
volatile substances, but first they must reach suggests that females have a distinct ability to
the olfactory cells in the nose. smell biological information in sweat or body
odor, which may guide them in selecting a mate
B. OLFACTORY CELLS (Wysocki et al., 2009)
 Olfactory Cells are receptors for smell and
are located in two I-inch-square patches of
tissue in the uppermost part of the nasal Can smell increase buying?
passages. For many of us, smelling pies, cakes or cookies
 Olfactory Cells are covered with mucus, a baking in the oven quickly improve sour mood,
gluey film into which volatile molecules even puts a big smile on our faces. Marketing
dissolve and stimulate the underlying companies use attractive scents to put us in a
olfactory cells. good mood and encourage us to make purchase.
 The olfactory cells trigger nerve impulses Scent marketing is clever because smell, more
that travel to the brain, which interprets the than any other sense, is connected to our limbic
impulses as different smells. system, where our motivations and emotions
are processed.
C. SENSATIONS AND MEMORIES Consequently, the feelings we get from smells
Nerve impulses from the olfactory cells travel first to are intense and immediate. This means if
the olfactory bulb, which is a tiny, grape-shaped area businesses use attractive scents, we may make
that lies directly above the olfactory cells at the purchases based more on instinct than on
bottom of the brain. From there. Impulses are rational thought, which of course is exactly what
relayed to the primary olfactory cortex (also called they want us to do (R. Baron, 2008; Hernz, 2008).
the piriform cortex) located underneath the brain.
This cortex transforms nerve impulses into the
olfactory sensations of a skunk’s spray or a sweet
perfume (Von Bothmer, 2006).

 The sense of touch includes pressure, temperature  When pressure (touch), temperature or pains
and pain. Beneath the outer layer of skin are a half- stimulates the skins receptors, they perform
dozen miniature sensors that are receptors for the transduction and change this form of energy into
sense of touch the function of the touch sensors is to nerve impulses. The impulses go up the spinal cord
change mechanical pressure or temperature and eventually reach the brains somatosensory
variations into nerve impulses that are sent to the cortex.
brain for processing.  The somatosensory cortex, which is located in the
parietal lobe, transforms nerve impulses into
RECEPTORS IN THE SKIN sensation of touch, temperature and pain. You know
1. SKIN which part is being stimulated because different
1.1 The skin, which is the body’s largest organ parts of the body are represented on the different
has three layers. The outermost layer of the areas of the somatosensory cortex.
skin is a thin film of dead cells containing no  Compared with touch and temperature, the sense of
receptors immediately below the dead layer pain is different because it has no specific stimulus
are the first receptors, which look like and can be suppressed by psychological factors.
groups of threadlike extensions.
1.2 In the middle and fatty layers of skin are a
variety of receptors with different shapes VI. CULTURAL DIVERSITY: DISGUST
and functions. Some of the major sensors in
the middle layer of the skin are hair PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS
receptors.  Disgust is triggered by the presence of a variety of
contaminated or offensive things, including foods,
2. HAIR RECEPTOR body products and gore. We show disgust, which is
2.1 In the middle layer are free nerve endings a universally recognized facial expression, by closing
that wrap around the base of each follicle; the eyes, narrowing the nostrils, curling the lips
these are called hair receptors. downward and sometimes sticking out the tongue.
2.2 Hair receptors respond or fire with a burst of
activity when hairs are first bent. However, CULTURAL FACTORS
if hairs remain bent for a period of time, the  Your particular culture has a strong influence on
receptors ceased fire, an example of sensory which foods you learn to perceive as disgusting and
adaptation. which you think are delicious. We’ll describe some
2.3 When you first put on a watch, it bends foods that are considered delicious in some cultures
hairs, causing hair receptors to fire; your and disgusting in others.
brain interprets this firing as pressure on
your wrist. If you keep the watch on and it Plump Grubs
remains in place keeping the hairs bent, the For most U.S citizen, eating a round, soft, white worm
hair receptors adapt or cease firing, and you would be total unthinkable. For the Asmat of New Guinea,
are no longer feel pressure from your watch, however, a favorite delicacy is a plump, white, 2-inch
even though that it is still there. larva- the beetle grub. The natives harvest dozens of the
2.4 Your skin contains some receptors that grubs, put them on bamboo slivers, and roast them. A
adapts rapidly (hair receptors) and others photographer from US who did a story on the Asmat tried
to eat a roasted grub, but his American tastes would not
adapts slowly. Adaptation prevents your
let him swallow it (Kirk, 1972)
sense of touch for being over-loaded.
Although some Americans have developed a taste for raw
fish (sushi), a common dish in Japan, most would certainly Can sugar pills reduce pain?
gag at the thought of eating raw fish eyes. Yet for some
Inuit (Eskimo) children, raw fish eyes are like candy.  One of the truly amazing research findings is
Eskimo also hunt a type of whale (the narwhal) that how sugar pills or placebos can somehow
provides much of their protein. They consider the layer of “trick” us into feeling or getting better. For
fat under the skin (mukluk) a delicacy, and they eat it raw example, because many of us believe that
or dried. we will be helped by taking pills, about one-
third of the population repost feeling much
Milk and Blood
better or having less pain after taking a pill,
Several tribes in East Africa supplement their diet with
not knowing that it was only a sugar pill- a
fresh blood that is sometimes mixed with milk. They
obtain the blood by puncturing a cow’s jugular vein with a
sharp narrow. A cow can be bled many times and suffer
no ill effects. The blood-milk drink is a rich source of  A placebo is some intervention, such as taking a pill,
protein and iron. receiving an injection, or undergoing an operation,
that resembles medical therapy but that, in fact, has
no medical effects.
Cultural Influences in Disgust
 A placebo effect is a change in the patient’s illness
 The reaction of U.S college students to eating white, (for better or worse) that is due to the patient’s
plump grubs or cold, glassy fish eyes or having a beliefs or expectations rather than the medical
warm drink of blood mixed with milk is almost treatment.
always disgust. Researchers believe that showing  One of the strongest and most studied placebo
disgust originally evolved to signal rejection of effects is the ability for placebos to relieve the
pain (G. A. Hoffman et al., 2005). For example, if
potentially contaminated or dangerous foods
people take a pill for headache pain and believe
and expect that the pain will decrease their pain,
 Today, however, because of cultural and about 30 to 60% of people will actually feel less
psychological influences, we may show disgust for pain after taking a placebo (Talbot, 2000)
eating a variety of non-contaminated foods (cat,  Because of the placebo effect can occur after
dog, or horse meat) or for certain situations taking any pill (injection or medical procedure),
(touching a dead person) (Rozin et al., 2000) researchers needed to find a method that could
separate a person’s expectations and beliefs
 The fact that the same things same viewed as all from the actual effects of a new drug or medical
right in one culture but as disgusting in another
graphically shows how much cultural values can
influence and bias perceptions. Just as psychological Research Methods
factors are involved in perceiving taste, they are also
involved in experiencing pain. The procedure used to separate a person’s expectations
(placebo effect) from the effects of a pill or medical
treatment is called double-blind

 In a double-blind procedure, neither the researchers

(“blind”) nor the subjects (“blind”) know who is
receiving what treatment. Because neither
researchers nor subjects know who is perceiving
which treatment, the researcher’s or subject’s
expectations have a chance to equally affect both
treatments (drug and placebo).
 For example, in a double-blind design, headache CONCLUSION: MIND OVER BODY
sufferers would be told they will be given one of
two kinds of pills to decease pain. Unknown to Based on the results of decades of research, three major
the subjects (“blind”) and the researchers conclusions about placebos have been reached (Ariely, 2008;
(“blind”), one of the pills is a drug and one is a Niemi, 2009; Talbot, 2000)
placebo. If subjects taking the drug report the
same decrease in pain as those taking the 1. Potentially powerful placebo effects, such as
placebo, researchers conclude the drug is no reducing pain or speeding recovery from medical
better than a placebo. If subjects taking the drug procedures, have been underestimated.
report less pain than those taking the placebo, 2. Both medication and fake surgeries can produce
researchers conclude the drug is medically useful significant placebo effects, such as reducing pain, in
because it is better than a placebo. 30 to 98% of patients.
3. Placebos indicate a powerful mind-over-body
 Over the past 25 years, hundreds of double-blind interaction, which explains why people may
experiments have found that 30 to 98% of people experience health benefit from taking placebos.
have reported beneficial effects after taking
placebos (Talbot, 2000).  Placebos may work by creating positive expectations
 For example, 85% of patients reported a and beliefs that reduce anxiety and stress. In turn,
reduction in pain from Herpes simplex (cold sores
the reduction of anxiety and stress results in
and genital sores) after a placebo drug
perceiving less pain and improves immune system
treatment. Also, 98% of patients reported
marked or complete relief of pain from ulcers functioning, so the body makes a quicker recovery
after placebo treatment (Turner et al., 1994). (W.A. Brown, 1997). Thus, there is no question our
minds have powerful effects on our bodies. In fact,
doctors are aware of the power of the placebo that
Power of Pricing 45% of them have prescribed a placebo to their
patients (Sherman & Hickner, 2008)
Is a more expensive pill better?

 Logic should tell us that the price of a pill

does not determine its level of effectiveness. VIII. PAIN
 Researchers asked participants to rate pain
 All of us can relate to pain because at one time or
caused by electric shocks applied to their
another we have felt various degrees of pain.
wrist, before and after taking a new
 Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional
painkiller. Half of the participants were told
experience that may result from tissue damage,
the new pill costs 10 cents, and half were
one’s thoughts or beliefs, or environmental
told it costs $2.50. in fact, all participants
received a placebo. Results showed 85% of
 Pain receptors send nerve impulses to the
those using the expensive pill felt less pain,
somatosensory and limbic areas of the brain, where
compared to 61% using the cheaper pill.
impulses are changed into pain sensations.
Thus, the pricier the pill, the higher the
 Pain is essential for survival: It warns us to avoid or
expectation of its effectiveness, and the
stronger the placebo effect (Ariely, 2008; escape dangerous situation and makes us take time
Waber et al., 2008) to recover from injury.
 The definition of pain differs from the other senses
in three ways.
1. Pain results from many different stimuli
(physical injury, psychological and social
stressors) whereas the other senses respond
primarily to a single stimulus.
2. Pain’s intensity depends not only on the physical  Other psychological factors, such as changes in
stimulus but also on social and psychological attention, can also alter perception of pain and
factors. answer an interesting question: Why do headaches
3. The treatment of pain depends not only on come and go, depending on what you are doing?
treating any physical injury but also on reducing
emotional distress that may have caused or
Gate Control Theory
contributed to the painful sensations (Kerns,
2006, 2007) How does the mind stop pain?

 Researchers recognize pain is a complex process that Although a headache is pai8nful, the pain may come and go
may or may not include tissue damage and usually as you shift your attention or become absorbed in some
involves social, psychological and emotional factors, project. This phenomenon is explained by the gate control
which can cause, increase or decrease painful theory of pain (Melzack & Katz, 2004)
sensations (Innes, 2005; Nicholson & Martelli, 2004).  The gate control theory of pain says that nonpainful
nerve impulses (shifting attention) compete with
 Examples of social, psychological and emotional pain impulses (headache) in trying to reach the
factors involved in pain perceptions are religious brain.
beliefs and whether the harm was caused  This competition creates a bottleneck, or neural
intentionally. gate, that limits the number of impulses that can be
 For instance, practicing Catholics perceive transmitted. Thus, shifting one’s attention or
electric shocks as less painful when looking at an
rubbing an injured area may increase the passage of
image of the Virgin Mary (Wiech et al., 2008)
 Other research finds that people who believe
nonpainful impulses and thereby decrease the
they are receiving an electric shock from another passage of painful impulses; as a result, the
person on purpose, as opposed to accidentally, sensation of pain is dulled.
rate the same shock as more painful (K. Gray &  The neural gate isn’t a physical structure but rather
Wegner, 2008). refers to the competition between nonpainful and
 These studies show that psychological painful impulses as they try to reach the brain.
experiences of pain are different even when the
physical sensations are the same.  The gate control theory explains how a professional
football quarterback was able to play the last six minutes
 Research also finds placebo treatments can result in of an important football game with a broken ankle
a lower perception of pain (Associated Press, 2002). This theory says that the football
 For example, after men had hot metal plates player’s intense attentional and emotional involvement in
placed on their hands, they were given an the game caused his brain to send nonpainful impulses
injection of either a painkiller or a placebo (they that closed neural gates in the spinal cord. The closed
did not know which- double-blind procedure). neural gates blocked impulses from a painful ankle from
Brain scans showed that the placebo injections reaching his brain and thus prevented feelings of pain.
that had reduced pain activated pain- reducing Later, when the game was over, the quarterback’s
brain circuits similar to the circuits activated by attention and emotional states calmed down, neural
real painkillers (Petrovic et al., 2002; Ploghaus et gates opened, impulses from his broken ankle reached his
al., 2003) brain, and he felt lots of pain.
 This and other studies demonstrate how one’s
beliefs can activate circuits in the brain that
result in changes in perception (decrease pain)  This same process explains why you may not notice
(Erdmann, 2008; Scott et al., 2007) the pain from your headache when involved in
another activity
Pain: Physical and Psychological much that they chose to receive the stronger shock
instead of waiting to receive a weaker one. Brain
 According to the gate control theory, your imaging of these “extreme-dreaders” showed
perception of pain depends not only on a stressful heightened activity in the brain’s pain center. Thus,
mental state or physical injury but also on a variety dread is not simply an emotional response to fear or
of psychological, emotional and social factors, which anxiety; rather, a significant component of dread
can either decrease or increase your perception of involves devoting attention to the expected and
pain (Pincus & Morley, 2001) unpleasant physical threat (in this case shock) (Berns
 Your perception of pain from a serious injury can also et al., 2006)
reduce by your brain’s ability to secrete its own pain-  These results suggest that when it comes to getting
reducing chemicals called endorphins root canal surgery or receiving a painful shot, it is not
the actual procedure people dread most, but rather
Endorphins are chemical produced by the brain and secreted the waiting time (Blakeslee, 2006b)
in response to injury or severe physical or psychological
 The pain reducing properties of endorphins are
similar to those of morphine, a powerful Can an ancient technique reduce pain?
painkilling drug (Ropper & Samuels, 2009) Initially, scientists trained in the rigorous methods of the
 The brain produces endorphins in situations that West (in particular, U.S) expressed doubt about an
evoke great fear, anxiety, stress or bodily injury, ancient Chinese pain-reducing procedure called
as well as intense aerobic activity. acupuncture.
 For example, subject with severe jaw pain
produced increased levels of endorphins
after they received a placebo injection and
subjects who reported the greatest pain  Acupuncture is a procedure in which a trained
relief showed the greatest endorphin practitioner inserts thin needles into various
release (Zubieta et al., 2005) points on the body’s surface and then manually
 In other research, patients showed twirls or electrically stimulates the needles.
increased levels of endorphin after  After 10 – 20 minutes of needle stimulation,
bandages were removed from badly burned patients often report a reduction in pain. The
areas of their bodies or after nerves of their
mysterious part of this procedure is the points of
teeth were touched (Szyfelbein et al., 1985)
insertion were mapped thousands of years ago
and as a researcher now know, are often far
 Overall, there is a strong relationship between
removed from sites of injury.
an increase in endorphin release and a decrease
in pain perception (Zubieta, 2007)  Today, modern scientists have explained some
of the mystery surrounding acupuncture.
 These studies indicate that the brain produces
1. The points of needle insertion, which seem
endorphins to reduce pain during times of
unrelated to the points of injury, are often
intense physical stress.
close to known pathways that conduct pain
Dread 2. There is some evidence that stimulation of
these points causes secretion of endorphins,
How is dread related to pain?
which we know can reduce pain (Hall, 2008;
 Dread seems to be connected to the pain centers of Kemmer, 2007).
the brain. One study placed participants into a brain 3. MRI brain scans showed that acupuncture
scanner (MRI) and offered them the choice of decreases neural activity in brain areas
receiving a stronger shock now or a weaker shock in involved in pain sensations (Aamodt &
the future. Some participants dreaded the shock so Wang, 2008; Ulett, 2003)
 Studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture in  For individuals who are blind because their entire
reducing back pain indicate that almost 50% of eye or optic nerve is damaged, researchers are
patients report long-term improvement developing a complete artificial eye that would send
(6months) after acupuncture treatment (Haake impulses directly to the brain.
et al., 2007)
 Acupuncture has been shown to relieve some
Brain implant
kinds of pain (back and knee pain, dental
treatment) and nausea (from chemotherapy or  In an attempt to restore some vision, a blind patient
morning sickness), but there is no persuasive was fitted with a miniature camera that sent
evidence that it is effective in other conditions, electrical signals to 100 electrodes that were
such as headache or drug addiction (Aamodt & implanted directly into the visual cortex, located at
Wang, 2008; Comarow, 2008; Hall, 2008). the occipital lobe.
 Many researchers insist it doesn’t matter where  When activated, the electrodes stimulated neurons
needles are placed or that needles are used at in the visual cortex and produced 100 tiny spots of
all; the only thing that matters, they say, is that light.
a person believes she or he is getting real  Although the 100 electrodes in the patient’s visual
acupuncture. cortex provided more visual information, neither
 Furthermore, the stronger their belief, the patient was able to see the outlines of objects or
better the results (Hall, 2008; Madsen et al., walk around without using a cane.
2009; Price et al., 2008)  However, recently, researchers made a significant
step forward in developing an artificial visual system.


Functional Vision
 The major goal in developing an artificial visual
Is an artificial eye possible? system is to provide enough visual information so a
The cause and degree of blindness depend on which part of blind person has meaningful visual function, such as
visual system is affected. reading letters and avoiding objects while walking
around the room. Researchers are getting closer to
 For example, a person would be totally blind if the reaching this goal.
photoreceptors (rods and cones) in the retina were
destroyed (retinitis pigmentosa, an inherit disease)  Jerry, a 62-year-old man who has been blind
or if the entire retina or optic nerve were damaged. since the age of 36 volunteered to have
First, we’ll look at a microchip that could be electrodes implanted into his brain’s visual
implanted into the retina to replace photoreceptors cortex. Jerry wears a pair of glasses that, on one
damaged by disease. side, holds a tiny camera, and on the other side,
an ultrasonic range finder. The range finder
analyzes echoes from high-frequency sounds
Artificial photoreceptors (beyond our range of hearing) that provide
information on location, size and distance of the
 Researchers have developed a microchip the size of object. The tiny camera provides visual
a match head that is implanted in the back of the information that is like looking through a tunnel
retina. This microchip sends impulses that travel on opening about 2 inches wide and 8 inches high.
to the brain for visual processing. Both devices send electrical information to a
 Although this microchip does not restore full vision, small computer Jerry wears on his hips. In turn,
the computer analyzes and relays electrical
it allows people who are now totally blind to see
information to a panel of electrodes that were
rough form of light, movements and objects.
implanted into and stimulate the visual area in
Jerry’s occipital lobe (white cords going into 2. Neural Deafness
skull) (Dobelle, 2000)
 Using this device, Jerry can recognize a 2-inch  The most severe kind of deafness is caused by
letter from 5 feet away and avoid large objects as
damage to the inner ear
he moves around a room. After receiving
 Neural deafness can cause by damage to the
upgrades to his device over the years, Jerry can
navigate the subway system on his own (J. auditory receptors (hair cells), which prevents the
Anderson, 2005). production of impulses, or by damage to the
auditory nerve, which prevents nerve impulses from
 The development of devices to help provide blind reaching the brain.
people with functional visual information is  Hellen Keller, who was born deaf and blind said, “To
advancing. Researchers are now trying to put a tiny be deaf is a greater affliction than to be blind.”
camera inside the eye rather than on eyeglasses, Hellen Keller had neural deafness, which is not
which would allow people to scan their environment helped by hearing aids.
by simply moving their eyes, rather than moving  Since neither hair cells nor auditory nerve fibers
their heads (Humayun, 2008) regenerate, neural deafness was generally
untreatable until the development of the cochlea
implant. Currently, it is the only approved treatment
KIND OF DEAFNESS for certain kinds of neural deafness.

What causes deafness?

Cochlear Implants
There are two major kinds of deafness that have different
effects, causes and treatments.  The cochlear implant is a miniature electronic device
that is surgically implanted into the cochlea. The
1. Conduction Deafness cochlear implant changes sound waves into
electrical signals that are fen into the auditory nerve,
 The less severe kind of deafness is caused by which carries them to the brain for processing.
problems in the middle ear
 Conduction deafness can be caused by wax in the 1. Microphone, which is worn behind the ear, gathers
auditory canal, injury to the tympanic membrane, or and sends sound waves to a sound processor
malfunction of the ossicles. All these conditions 2. Sound processor transforms sound waves into
interfere with the transmission of vibrations from electrical signals, which are sent to a tiny transmitter
the tympanic membrane to the fluid of the cochlea, 3. Receiver, which is implanted in the bony skull,
resulting in degrees of hearing loss. receives the electrical signals and sends them along
 More than 28 million Americans, almost 10% of the a thin wire cable to the cochlea.
population, have hearing loss called conduction 4. Thin cable is threaded into a fluid-filled tube of the
deafness (Ruben, 2007). cochlea until it makes contact with the auditory
 Conduction deafness occurring in 30 – 40% of adults nerve. When the receiver sends electrical signal
over 65, can often be treated with a hearing aid, through the wire cable, the signals trigger impulses
which replaces the function of the middle ear. in the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids pick up sound waves, change them to 5. Auditory nerve carries the “manufactured” impulses
vibrations and send them through the skull to the to the auditory areas in the brain, which interpret
inner ear. and transform impulses into auditory impulses.