34 Key Terms of Sensation & Perception

absolute threshold
minimum amount of stimulus energy that must be present for the stimulus to be detected 50% of the time
continuation of a visual sensation after removal of the stimulus
height of a wave
basilar membrane
thin strip of tissue within the cochlea that contains the hair cells which serve as the sensory receptors for the auditory system
binaural cue
two-eared cue to localize sound
binocular cue
cue that relies on the use of both eyes
binocular disparity
slightly different view of the world that each eye receives
blind spot
point where we cannot respond to visual information in that portion of the visual field
bottom-up processing
system in which perceptions are built from sensory input
organizing our perceptions into complete objects rather than as a series of parts
fluid-filled, snail-shaped structure that contains the sensory receptor cells of the auditory system
cochlear implant
electronic device that consists of a microphone, a speech processor, and an electrode array to directly stimulate the auditory nerve to transmit information to the brain
conductive hearing loss
failure in the vibration of the eardrum and/or movement of the ossicles
specialized photoreceptor that works best in bright light conditions and detects colour
congenital deafness
deafness from birth
congenital insensitivity to pain (congenital analgesia)
genetic disorder that results in the inability to experience pain
transparent covering over the eye
partial or complete inability to hear
decibel (dB)
logarithmic unit of sound intensity
depth perception
ability to perceive depth
electromagnetic spectrum
all the electromagnetic radiation that occurs in our environment
figure-ground relationship
segmenting our visual world into figure and ground
small indentation in the retina that contains cones
number of waves that pass a given point in a given time period
Gestalt psychology
field of psychology based on the idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts
good continuation
(also, continuity) we are more likely to perceive continuous, smooth flowing lines rather than jagged, broken lines
hair cell
auditory receptor cell of the inner ear
hertz (Hz)
cycles per second; measure of frequency
inattentional blindness
failure to notice something that is completely visible because of a lack of attention
middle ear ossicle; also known as the anvil
inflammatory pain
signal that some type of tissue damage has occurred
interaural level difference
sound coming from one side of the body is more intense at the closest ear because of the attenuation of the sound wave as it passes through the head
interaural timing difference
small difference in the time at which a given sound wave arrives at each ear
coloured portion of the eye
just noticeable difference
difference in stimuli required to detect a difference between the stimuli
perception of the body’s movement through space
curved, transparent structure that provides additional focus for light entering the eye
linear perspective
perceive depth in an image when two parallel lines seem to converge
middle ear ossicle; also known as the hammer
Meissner’s corpuscle
touch receptor that responds to pressure and lower frequency vibrations
Ménière’s disease
results in a degeneration of inner ear structures that can lead to hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and an increase in pressure within the inner ear
Merkel’s disk
touch receptor that responds to light touch
monaural cue
one-eared cue to localize sound
monocular cue
cue that requires only one eye
neuropathic pain
pain from damage to neurones of either the peripheral or central nervous system
sensory signal indicating potential harm and maybe pain
olfactory bulb
bulb-like structure at the tip of the frontal lobe, where the olfactory nerves begin
olfactory receptor
sensory cell for the olfactory system
opponent-process theory of colour perception
colour is coded in opponent pairs: black-white, yellow-blue, and red-green
optic chiasm
X-shaped structure that sits just below the brain’s ventral surface; represents the merging of the optic nerves from the two eyes and the separation of information from the two sides of the visual field to the opposite side of the brain
optic nerve
carries visual information from the retina to the brain
Pacinian corpuscle
touch receptor that detects transient pressure and higher frequency vibrations
pattern perception
ability to discriminate among different figures and shapes
(also, crest) highest point of a wave
way that sensory information is interpreted and consciously experienced
perceptual hypothesis
educated guess used to interpret sensory information
chemical message sent by another individual
light-detecting cell
visible part of the ear that protrudes from the head
perception of a sound’s frequency
place theory of pitch perception
different portions of the basilar membrane are sensitive to sounds of different frequencies
principle of closure
organize perceptions into complete objects rather than as a series of parts
perception of body position
things that are close to one another tend to be grouped together
branch of psychology that studies the effects of physical stimuli on sensory perceptions and mental states

small opening in the eye through which light passes

response bias
behavioural tendency to respond “yes”

light-sensitive lining of the eye

specialized photoreceptor that works well in low light conditions
Ruffini corpuscle
touch receptor that detects stretch
what happens when sensory information is detected by a sensory receptor
the true ability of the individual to detect the presence or absence of signals
sensorineural hearing loss
failure to transmit neural signals from the cochlea to the brain
sensory adaptation
not perceiving stimuli that remain relatively constant over prolonged periods of time
signal detection analysis
technique used to determine the ability of the perceiver to separate true signals from background noise
things that are alike tend to be grouped together
middle ear ossicle; also known as the stirrup
subliminal stimuli
events that occur below the absolute threshold and of which we are not conscious
taste bud
grouping of taste receptor cells with hair-like extensions that protrude into the central pore of the taste bud
temporal theory of pitch perception
sound’s frequency is coded by the activity level of a sensory neurone
temperature perception
sound’s purity
top-down processing
interpretation of sensations is influenced by available knowledge, experiences, and thoughts
conversion from sensory stimulus energy to action potential
trichromatic theory of colour perception
colour vision is mediated by the activity across the three groups of cones
lowest point of a wave
tympanic membrane
taste for monosodium glutamate
spinning sensation
vestibular sense
contributes to our ability to maintain balance and body posture
visible spectrum
portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can see
length of a wave from one peak to the next peak
Weber’s law
the just noticeable difference of a stimulus is a constant proportion of the original intensity of the stimulus


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Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience (2nd Edition) Copyright © 2020 by Edited by Leanne Stevens, Jennifer Stamp, & Kevin LeBlanc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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