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Social Sci LibreTexts

4: Sensing and Perceiving

  • Page ID
    38223
    • Contributed by No Attribution
    • Anonymous by request

    • 4.1: We Experience Our World Through Sensation
      Humans possess powerful sensory capacities that allow us to sense the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that surround us. Our eyes detect light energy and our ears pick up sound waves. Our skin senses touch, pressure, hot, and cold. Our tongues react to the molecules of the foods we eat, and our noses detect scents in the air. The human perceptual system is wired for accuracy, and people are exceedingly good at making use of the wide variety of information available to them.
    • 4.2: Seeing
      A large part of our cerebral cortex is devoted to seeing, and we have substantial visual skills. Seeing begins when light falls on the eyes, initiating the process of transduction. Once this visual information reaches the visual cortex, it is processed by a variety of neurons that detect colors, shapes, and motion, and that create meaningful perceptions out of the incoming stimuli.
    • 4.3: Hearing
      The human ear is sensitive to a wide range of sounds, ranging from the faint tick of a clock in a nearby room to the roar of a rock band at a nightclub, and we have the ability to detect very small variations in sound. But the ear is particularly sensitive to sounds in the same frequency as the human voice. A mother can pick out her child’s voice from a host of others, and when we pick up the phone we quickly recognize a familiar voice.
    • 4.4: Tasting, Smelling, and Touching
      Although vision and hearing are by far the most important, human sensation is rounded out by four other senses, each of which provides an essential avenue to a better understanding of and response to the world around us. These other senses are touch, taste, smell, and our sense of body position and movement (proprioception).
    • 4.5: Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Perception
      The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin sense the world around us, and in some cases perform preliminary information processing on the incoming data. But by and large, we do not experience sensation—we experience the outcome of perception—the total package that the brain puts together from the pieces it receives through our senses and that the brain creates for us to experience.
    • 4.S: Sensing and Perceiving (Summary)

    Thumbnail: The Spinning Dancer is a kinetic, bistable optical illusion resembling a pirouetting female dancer. Some observers initially see the figure as spinning clockwise and some anticlockwise. Additionally, some may see the figure suddenly spin in the opposite direction. The illusion derives from an inherent ambiguity from the lack of visual cues for depth. (CC BY-SA 3.0; Nobuyuki Kayahara via Wikipedia)​​​​​​