Psych Study Guide
SENSATION AND PERCEPTION
. Sensation: The conversion of energy from the environment into a pattern of
response by the nervous system; the detection of stimuli
. Perception: The interpretation of that information
. Parts and function of the eye:
• Pupil: an adjustable opening in the eye
• Iris: the colored structure on the surface of the eye surrounding the
• Light that passes through the eye passes through a layer of vitreous
humor (jellylike substance) to strike the retina
Retina: A layer of visual receptors covering the back surface of the eyeball
Cornea: A rigid transparent structure on the outside of the eyeball
Lens: Just below the cornea: can bend and vary in thickness to allow for
accommodation of objects at different distances
Fovea: Central area of the human retina; adapted for highly detailed vision.
Greatest density of receptors
Receptors and functions of receptors
Located in the retina, in the back of the eyeball; very sensitive and very
Cones: Adapted for color vision, daytime vision. Only 5% of total receptors,
but far more axonal connections to brain: send much more information.
The fovea is all cones
Rods: Adapted for vision in dim light – not color
Parts of the ear •
Sound waves hit eardrum which cause it to vibrate
Eardrum connects to 3 tiny bones: hammer, anvil, and stirrup
Stirrup vibrates last, and transfers vibrations to the cochlea
Contain fluid filled canals
Also contain receptors for hearing, which are hair cells
These hair cells connect to neurons which transmit signals to the brain.
How sound is defined
Ear is technically known as pinna
Mammalian eat converts sound waves into mechanical displacements
along a row of receptor cells
Sound waves are vibrations of air or another medium
Frequency: the number of cycles (vibrations) a sound wave goes through
in a second (hertz/Hz)
Loudness: amplitude of sound waves: intensity
Adult humans hear sound waves from 15Hz to 15000Hz
Lower frequencies simply vibrate hair cells, while higher frequencies use
volleys; group of hair cells respond. Highest frequencies only vibrate hair
cells at a certain place (very highest, stirrup end.) Called Place Principle.
We detect where sounds are coming from simply by calculating difference
in time to each ear
Types and cause of deafness
Conduction deafness: bones connected to the eardrum fail to transmit
sound waves properly to the cochlea. Can be repaired surgically Nerve deafness: Diseases, heredity, exposure to loud noises destroy either
cochlea or efferent neurons. Cannot be surgically repaired. Hearing aids
COGNITION AND LANGUAGE
Differences between attentive and pre attentive processes
Nude guy at a party vs. nude guy at a nudist beach: context
Very easy to spot the nude guy at a party: pre attentive process
Find a specific nude guy at the nudist beach: much more difficult – requires
attention: attentive process (where’s waldo)
Algorithms and heuristics
Algorithm: a mechanical, repetitive procedure for solving a problem or
testing every hypothesis. Ex. Literally trying every route home and timing it
to find the fastest
Heuristics: strategies for simplifying a problem and generating a
satisfactory guess. Ex. recalling where traffic lights are and eliminating
For heuristics, one accepts a certain risk of error: ex. Difficult to read
instructions implies difficult task, difficult to read ingredients implies danger.
Maximizers and satisficers
Maximizing: thoroughly considering every possibility to find the best one.
Satisficing: searching only until you find something satisfactory.
When I listen to the radio, I switch channels frequently to find the best
I shop at many stores before deciding which clothes to buy. I expect to go to many job interviews before accepting one.
Maximizers, research shows, make better choices, and they end up with
higher paying jobs.
They take more time to make decisions, and are less satisfied with their
Context: if you replace one sound in a word with a similar sound, it will be
heard as the sound that is ‘supposed’ to be there: i.e. “sh” in abolish
Lip reading: if lip movements don’t match what we hear, we “hear”
Understanding sentences: “the store sells horse shoes.” “The store sells
alligator shoes” Understanding sentences depends largely on your
understanding of the world.
Limits to language understanding
Double-embedded sentences: “the dog the saw chased a squirrel.”
Embedded once: can handle that. “The squirrel the dog the cat saw
chased climbed the tree” double embedded- overburdens memory.
Double and triple negatives, even when grammatically proper are difficult
to understand. (politicians)
Phoneme: unit of sound (f or sh)
Morpheme: unit of meaning: thrills has two morphemes: one for thrill and
one for plural
We develop expertise over time at recognizing both.
Word recognition: word-superiority effect: people recognize letters better
as part of a word than by themselves. Explanation: neurons associated with the word COIN are more numerous than each individual letter.
Fixations: when eyes are stationary
Saccades: quick eye movement from one fixation to another
Brain “takes breaks” during eye movement, and you only read during
fixations. Normal pace is about 4 fixations per second.
ADD, ADHD and differences
ADD: Attention deficit disorder is characterized by easy distractions,
impulsiveness, and failure to follow through on plans.
ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the same except there is
also “fidgetiness” inability to sit still.
Extremely high variability in symptoms: most people perform well enough,
their “attention blink” is longer: more easily distracted.
Tasks sensitive to ADD
Choice delay: tests impulsivity: children who choose the small reward right
away are more likely to have attention issues in childhood and
The stop signal task: Press “X” or “O” if you see “X” or “O” on the screen,
unless you hear a beep… ADD/ADHD tend not to be able to stop the press
unless the beep is simultaneous.
NATURE, NURTURE, AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
8 slides of Piaget
Heritability: an estimate of the variance within a population that is due to
heredity. Ranges from 1 to 0: 1 meaning that heredity controls all the
variance, 0 indicating that heredity controls none of the variance.
• Strands of genetic material
Each human nucleus: 23 pairs of chromosomes, except egg and sperm
cells which have 23 unpaired.
Sections along each chromosome, genes, control the chemical reactions
that direct development: e.g. height, hair color.
Genes are composed of DNA, which controls the production of proteins.
Sex-linked and sex-limited genes
You have 2 of almost all genes.
Exceptions: sex chromosomes, which determine whether you are male or
Mammals: X and Y: female has 2X and male has 1X and 1Y
Mother contributes 1X and father contributes either 1X or 1Y.
Genes located on the X-Chromosome are known as sex linked or x-linked
genes; an x-linked recessive gene is much more likely to show its effects in
males (because men only have 1X)
Genes differ in effect based on hormones: facial hair, breasts.
Dominant and Recessive Genes
Dominant Genes: a single copy is sufficient to produce effect (e.g. brown
Recessive Genes: Its effects appear only if the dominant copy is absent.
How a trait is biological without being genetic example: adopted child with
arrest record, biological mother with arrest record: may not be genetic:
may have to do with biological mother consuming alcohol while pregnant.
. Spearman model of intelligence
1904: Charles Spearman: set out to measure individual differences in
Began by judging how well a group of people performed on things like
judging musical pitch, following directions, matching colors, math.
Found positive correlation; called it general ability.
Each task also requires specific ability; correlation isn’t perfect.
General ability usually involve similar skills but when there is a difference, it
can be explained
Similar skills: working memory
Genetics, nutrition, health.
The Stanford Binet test
The test that Binet and Simon designed was later modified for English
speakers Stanford psychologists and published as the Stanford Binet IQ
The tests items are designed by age: correct answers of most “age 8”
questions, but not 8” questions, signifies a mental age of 8. Known as
adaptive testing. Mean score at any age is 100.
The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) and the
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition (WAIC-IV) have the
same scoring system as Stanford-Binet. These are the most widely used