Sensation and Perception

Teaching Sensation and Perception
In psychology, sensation and perception are stages of processing of the senses in human and animal systems, such as vision, auditory, vestibular, and pain senses. These topics are considered part of psychology, and not anatomy or physiology, because processes in the brain so greatly affect the perception of a stimulus. Included in this topic is the study of illusions such as motion aftereffect, color constancy, auditory illusions, and depth perception.
Sensation is the function of the low-level biochemical and neurological events that begin with the impinging of a stimulus upon the receptor cells of a sensory organ. It is the detection of the elementary properties of a stimulus.

Perception is the mental process or state that is reflected in statements like “I see a uniformly blue wall”, representing awareness or understanding of the real-world cause of the sensory input. The goal of sensation is detection, the goal of perception is to create useful information of the surroundings.

Perception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs. For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory, and expectation. Perception involves these “top-down” effects as well as the “bottom-up” process of processing sensory input. The “bottom-up” processing is basically low-level information that’s used to build up higher-level information (e.g., shapes for object recognition). The “top-down” processing refers to a person’s concept and expectations (knowledge) that influence perception. Perception depends on complex functions of the nervous system, but subjectively seems mostly effortless because this processing happens outside conscious awareness.

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