Article

Perception

Elyssa Twedt and Dennis R. Proffitt

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online March 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0119
Perception

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Perception is the study of how sensory information is processed into perceptual experiences. In some cases, actions are guided by sensory information processed outside of awareness, and such cases will be discussed later. There are five primary senses, each with unique sensory inputs, structures, and mechanisms underlying its function. However, all five senses share the common goal of picking up sensory information from the external environment and processing that information into a perceptual experience. In vision, light activates photoreceptors on the retina, which leads to a cascade of chemical and electrical events, processing in the visual cortex, and finally the experience of seeing. For audition, changes in air pressure are transformed by the inner ear and auditory cortex into the experience of hearing sound. The experiences of touch, pain, and temperature result from the activation of mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, and thermoreceptors on the skin, which send information to the somatosensory cortex. The sense of smell arises once odorant receptors in the nose detect gas molecules and structures within the olfactory cortex work to discriminate, identify, and affectively evaluate odor qualities. Finally, taste occurs when liquid or solid molecules stimulate receptors on the tongue and information about taste quality can be processed by the gustatory cortex. Perceptual scientists have utilized a variety of behavioral, physiological, and neuroimaging techniques to discover how sensory inputs are organized in the brain and how sensory coding maps onto perceptual experiences. The sections of this article provide a thorough discussion of each sensory system, the major areas of research within each field, how the sensory systems often interact to create multisensory experiences, and how non-sensory factors, such as cognition, behavior, and experience, can affect perceptual experience. Historical accounts are often included to provide a broader context for contemporary research. This article shows that some of the sensory systems, such as vision and audition, have a longer history of study and are much better understood than touch, smell, or taste.

Article.  14606 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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