Sensation and Stuff

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  1. Sensation
    the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system receive and represent stimulus energies from our environment
  2. Perception
    the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events
  3. Bottom-Up Processing
    analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information
  4. Top-Down Processing
    Information processing guided by higher-level mental processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectations
  5. Psychophysics
    the study of relationships between the physical characteristics of stimuli, such as their intensity, and our psychological experience of them
  6. Absolute Threshold
    the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time
  7. 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 that detection depends partly on a person's experience, expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue
  8. Subliminal
    below one's absolute threshold for conscious awareness
  9. Priming
    the activation, often unconsciously, of certain associations, thus predisposing one's perception, memory, or response
  10. Difference Threshold
    • the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50% of the time
    • We experience the difference threshold as a just noticeable difference
  11. Weber's Law
    the principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage rather than a constant amount
  12. Sensory Adaptation
    diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation
  13. Feature Detector
    nerve cells in the rain that respond to specific features of stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement
  14. Parallel Processing
    • the processing of many aspects of a problem simultaneously
    • the brain's natural mode of information processing for many functions, including vision
    • Contrasts with the step-by-step processing of most computers and of conscious problem solving
  15. Young-Helmholtz Trichromatic (three-color) Theory
    the theory that the retina contains three different color receptors--one most senstitive to red, one to green, and one to blue -- which, when stimulated in combination, can produce the perception of any color
  16. 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
  17. Audition
    the sense or act of hearing
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Sensation and Stuff
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