Sensation & Perception:
• Some species are sensitive to perceptual information out of our range e.g dogs
• Other species pick up types of information that humans simply don’t use (e.g.
homming pigeons appear to use magnetic fields to navigate)
• Human perception also changes across lifespan
Sensation: the detection of stimuli by the sensory receptors (PGS 129)
Perception: The interpretation of sensations in order to make them meaningful (PGS p
• Selection of particular sensory input for perceptual or cognitive processing and
the exclusion of competing input.
How to unlock the mysteries of sensation/perception/attention in young infants/toddlers
Human Sensory Input:
Both fetus and newborn display reflexive behavior in response to tactile
Premature infants benefit from massage
Newborns tend to be alert/active when a bit cool and sleepy/relaxed when a bit
Newborns display distress response to discomfort.
Physically Painful Experiences: (TODDIO ET AL. 1997)
Male infants memory for pain of circumcision
Dependent Variable response to vaccination at 46 months
Independent variable: was infant circumcised with or without anesthetic
Result: infants circumcised without anesthetic displayed more intense pain
High pitched cries, increases in heart rate and blood pressure
Memory for painful experiences?
Fetus able to experience smell sensation around 28 weeks gestation
Mother’s diet during pregnancy shapes postnatal smell preferences
At birth, prefer smell of own amniotic fluid
One to two week olds prefer smell of own mother.
Preferential Smell Procedure (CERNOCH & PORTER 1985)
12 to 18 day infants presented with armpit pads
Breastfed babies preferred own mother’s armpit pad; no preference for dad’s
Innate taste preferences
Memory for taste experiences in the womb endures long after birth.
Most knowledge about this sense in both adults & infants.
Visual preference; looking for preferences of patterns
Basically a measure of how sharp is babies’ vision.
The Development of Acuity: early on, newborns don’t have strong color vision
but this develops greatly with time
Eye Movement Control:
Newborns see the world in colour, but: trouble distinguishing blue, green and
yellow from white especially when equally bright.
By 4 months; infants can discriminate all the basic colors.
Visual cliff studies Gibson & walk 1960:
Original studies tested infants who knew ho