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Chapter 4

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Georgia Institute of Technology
PSYC 1101

Sensation - Our senses - Transduction: converting external signals into a “language” the nervous system can understand - Sense receptor: specialized cell that transduces a specific stimulus - Sensory adaptation: response to a stimulus declines after first activation Psychophysics - Gustav Fechner o Absolute threshold: lowest level of stimulus we can detect o Just Noticeable Difference: smallest change in stimulus that we can detect o Weber’s Law: constant relationship between JND and original stimulus intensity - Signal Detection Theory: David Green and John Swets o How we detect stimuli under certain conditions; signal-to-noise ratio o Response biases - Sensory Systems o Johannes Muller: doctrine of specific nerve energies  the sensation we experience is determined by the nature of the receptor, not the stimulus o McGurk Effect: we integrate visual and auditory information when processing language  “Rubber Hand Illusion” o Synesthesia: Sir Francis Galton; rare condition in which people experience cross-modal sensations (hearing sounds when they see colors) Perception - Parallel Processing: when we can attend to many sense modalities simultaneously o Bottom-Up Processing: we construct a stimulus from its parts (perceiving an object based on its edges) o Top-Down Processing: starts with our beliefs and biases which we then impose on raw stimuli o These two kinds of perception work hand-in-hand most of the time - Perceptual Hypothesis o Perceptual Set: formed when our expectations influence our perceptions (top-down)  Ex. Perceiving a letter based on context clues o Perceptual Consistency: the process by which we perceive stimuli consistently across varied conditions  Without it, the world would be constantly changing  Ex. Size, shape, color consistency - Role of Attention o Flexible attention is critical in a varied world o Selective Attention: Allows us to select one “channel” and turn off the others (or at least turn down the volume) o Filter Theory of Attention: Donald Broadbent; attention is a bottleneck through which information passes through  Tested through “Dichotic Listening”  two messages at the same time, focus on one  Cocktail Party Effect: our ability to pick out a message in a conversation that does not concern us o Inattentional Blindness: Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris; basketball test w/ distraction distraction went unnoticed half the time o Change Blindness: failure to notice a change in one’s environment - The Binding Problem o Our brains perceive something in parts and somehow combine it o Subliminal Information Processing: we process many sensory inputs to which we’re exposed subconsciously and many of our actions occur without forethought o Subliminal Perception: processing of information from stimuli that occur below the level of awareness o Subliminal Persuasion: sub-threshold influences on our actions  Possible but not probable Extrasensory Perception - ESP o Perceiving stimuli without our senses o Three Types  1. Precognition: predicting events before they occur  2. Telepathy: reading minds  3. Clairvoyance: detecting the presence of objects or people hidden from view o Scientific Evidence:  Joseph B. Rhine: had positive but unreplicable test results  Ganzfield Technique: take away external distracting stimuli; place subjects in a room in a uniform sensory field - Why People Believe in this Shit o Illusory Correlation: recall events that are coincidences and ignore events that aren’t - Failed Psychic Predictions o Tracked by Gene Emery; none came true o Multiple End Points: open ended predictions bound to come true just because of statistics o Cold Reading: the art of persuading people we’ve just met that we know all about them Seeing: The Visual System Light - Eyes respond to a range of wavelengths - Brightness is determined by intensity - Hue: the color of light The Eye - Sclera, Iris, & Pupil - SIP o Sclera: the white part of the eye o Iris: the colored part of the eye o Pupil: the black part of the eye  Dilates when attempting to understand complex information - Cornea, Lens, & Eye Muscles o Cornea: curved transparent layer covering the iris and pupil; bends light o Lens: changes curvature of light allowing us to fine-tune the image  Accommodation: the lens changes shape to focus light on the back of the eyes in order to adapt to perceived distances o Myopia: nearsightedness o Hyperopia: farsightedness - Retina o Retina: thin membrane at the back of the eye  Fovea: central part of the retina and responsible for acuity (sharpness of the image) o Rods: receptor cells in the retina which allow us to perceive basic shapes and forms o Cones: give us color vision; sensitive to detail o Photopigments: chemicals that change following exposure to light  Rods have rhodspin o Optic Nerve: contains the axons of ganglion cells, travels from the retina to the rest of the brain  Fork called the Optic Chiasm  Blind Spot: where the optic nerves connect to the retina Visual Perception - Shape and Contour o David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel  Used cats to unlock how we perceive shape and form  Recorded electrical activity in the visual cortexes of cats while presenting them with visual stimuli o Feature Detection  Our ability to use certain patterns to identify objects  Simple and complex cells detect edges and lines  More complex feature detector cells work at higher levels of processing o Gestalt Principles
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