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absolute threshold  The minimum amount of stimulus energy that a person can detect.
apparent movement  The perception that a stationary object is moving.
auditory nerve  Nerve that carries neural impulses to the brain’s auditory areas.
binding  The bringing together and integration of what is processed through different pathways or cells.
binocular cues  Depth cues that are based on the combination of the images on the left and right eyes and on the way the two eyes work together.
bottom-up processing  Processing that begins with sensory receptors registering environmental information and sending it to the brain for analysis and interpretation.
cones  The receptors in the retina that process information about color.
depth perception  The ability to perceive objects three dimensionally.
difference threshold  The smallest difference in stimulation required to discriminate one stimulus from another 50 percent of the time; also called just noticeable difference.
feature detectors  Neurons in the brain's visual system that respond to particular features of a stimulus.
figure-ground relationship  Principle by which individuals organize the perceptual field into stimuli that stand out (figure) and those that are left over (background, or ground).
frequency theory  Theory stating that perception of a sound's frequency depends on how often the auditory nerve fires.
gate-control theory of pain  The spinal column contains a neural gate that can be open (allowing the perception of pain) or closed (blocking the perception of pain).
gestalt psychology  School of psychology emphasizing that people naturally organize their perceptions according to certain patterns.
inner ear  Consists of oval window, cochlea, and basilar membrane.
kinesthetic senses  Senses that provide information about movement, posture, and orientation
middle ear  Consists of eardrum, hammer, anvil, and stirrup.
monocular cues  Depth cues that are available from the image in either eye.
noise  Irrelevant and competing stimuli.
olfactory epithelium  A sheet of receptor cells for smell that lines the roof of the nasal cavity.
opponent-process theory  Theory stating that cells in the visual system respond to red-green and blue-yellow colors; a given cell might be excited by red and inhibited by green, whereas another might be excited by yellow and inhibited by blue.
outer ear  Consists of pinna and external auditory canal.
pain  The sensation that warns us that damage to our bodies is occurring.
papillae  Bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds, the receptors for taste.
parallel processing  The simultaneous distribution of information across different neural pathways.
perception  The brain's process of organizing and interpreting sensory information to give it meaning.
perceptual constancy  Recognition that objects are constant and unchanging even though sensory input about them is changing.
perceptual set  A predisposition, or readiness, to perceive something in a particular way.
place theory  The theory of hearing that states that each frequency produces vibrations at a particular spot on the basilar membrane.
psychophysics  The field that studies links between the physical properties of stimuli and a person's experience of them.
retina  The light-sensitive surface in the back of the eye that records what we see and converts it to neural impulses for processing in the brain.
rods  The receptors in the retina that are sensitive to light but are not very useful for color vision.
selective attention  Focusing on a specific aspect of experience while ignoring others.
semicircular canals  Structure in the inner ear containing the sensory receptors that detect head motion.
sensation  The process of receiving stimulus energies from the environment.
sensory adaptation  A change in the responsiveness of the sensory system based on the average level of surrounding stimulation.
sensory receptors  Specialized cells that detect stimulus information and transmit it to sensory (afferent) nerves and the brain.
signal detection theory  The theory about perception that focuses on decision making about stimuli in the presence of uncertainty; detection depends on a variety of factors besides the physical intensity of the stimulus and the sensory abilities of the observer.
subliminal perception  The detection of information below the level of conscious awareness
thermoreceptors  Sensory receptors, located under the skin, that respond to changes in temperature at or near the skin and provide input to keep the body’s temperature at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
top-down processing  Processing of perceptual information that starts out with cognitive processing at the higher levels of the brain.
transduction  The process of transforming physical energy into electrochemical energy.
trichromatic theory  Theory stating that color perception is produced by three types of receptors (cone cells in the retina) that are particularly sensitive to different, but overlapping, ranges of wavelengths.
vestibular sense  Senses that provide information about balance and movement.
visual illusion  A discrepancy between reality and the perceptual representation of it.
volley principle  Modification of frequency theory stating that a cluster of nerve cells can fire neural impulses in rapid succession, producing a volley of impulses.
Weber's law  The principle that two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage (rather than a constant amount) to be perceived as different.







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