Psychology Around Us 2nd Canadian Edition By Ronald - Test Bank

Psychology Around Us 2nd Canadian Edition By Ronald – Test Bank


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Psychology Around Us 2nd Canadian Edition By Ronald – Test Bank


Sensation and Perception


1. Describe characteristics shared by all the senses, including receptor cells, transduction, and thresholds, and differentiate between top-down and bottom-up processes of perception.

  • Our sensory systems convert physical stimuli into neural information with specialized cells called sensory receptor cells that convert a specific form of environmental stimuli into neural impulses by a process called sensory transduction.
  • The conversion of physical stimuli into neural impulses only occurs when the stimuli reach a certain level, or threshold. The absolute threshold is the minimum level of a stimulus we can detect. The difference threshold is the smallest difference we can detect between two similar stimuli.
  • Our sensory systems are set up to detect change. With continuous exposure to a stimulus, adaptation occurs.
  • Bottom up processing begins with the physical stimuli from the environment and proceeds through to perception. In top-down processing prior knowledge is used to interpret perceptual information.

2. Summarize the biological changes that underlie smell and taste.

  • Smell, our olfactory sense, converts chemical odorants into neural signals that the brain can use. Taste, our gustatory sense, is closely intertwined with smell. Most flavours are a combination of scents with the five basic tastes we can discern: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
  • Taste buds in papillae on the tongue convert chemicals in our food to neural signals the brain can use. Taste receptors and smell receptors are routinely replaced, since they are more vulnerable to damage than other sensory receptors.
  • Information about smell goes directly from the olfactory bulb to the olfactory cortex. Areas of the brain that process smells and tastes are plastic, or changeable. Processing of smells also sometimes overlaps with emotions and memories.
  • Our preferred tastes change as we mature from childhood to adulthood, probably from a combination of learning and physical changes in the mouth.
  • True disorders of taste are rare; people more frequently lose part or all of their sense of smell. Anosmia can present safety risks and diminish pleasure in life.

3. Describe how the different senses of touch work and what can happen when things go wrong.

  • A variety of sensory receptors throughout our bodies convert touch, pressure, or temperature stimuli into neural impulses that our brains can perceive.
  • The sensory cortex of the brain maps touch sensations. Especially sensitive or important body parts receive disproportionately large representation in the cortex.
  • Pain travels to the brain via both a fast pathway and a slow pathway.
  • The gate control theory of pain suggests that certain patterns of neural activity can close a “gate” so that pain information does not reach parts of the brain where it is perceived.
  • Medical professionals continue to search for ways to relieve people’s chronic pain. Opiate drugs that simulate natural pain-killing endorphins or enkephalins are addictive. Sometimes practitioners resort to neurosurgery, which stops a patient from receiving all touch signals.
  • People who have lost body parts surgically or through accidents often feel phantom sensations in the missing body part. These may be related to reorganization of the somatosensory cortex after an amputation.

4. Summarize what happens when we hear.

  • The frequency and amplitude of sound waves produce our perceptions of pitch and loudness of sounds.
  • When sounds enter the ear, they move the ear drum, which sets in motion the ossicles. The last of these, the stirrup, vibrates the oval window, setting into motion fluid in the cochlea. Hair cells on the basilar membrane in the cochlea transduce movements along the basilar membrane into neural signals the brain can interpret.
  • Frequency theory suggests that patterns in the firing rates of the neurons are perceived as different sounds. Place theory suggests that information from different locations along the basilar membrane is related to different qualities of sound.
  • Top-down processing lets us use the general loudness of sounds, as well as differences in the signals received from each ear, to determine location of a sound.
  • Different pitches are represented in a tonotopic map in the auditory cortex of the brain. Association areas of the cortex help us recognize familiar sounds, including speech.
  • The brain integrates information from multiple sensory systems to enable the appropriate recognition and response to stimuli. Some people experience an overlap of sensory systems, known as synesthesia.
  • As young children, we experience a sensitive period during which it is especially easy for us to learn auditory information, including language and music. Some people, particularly those exposed to pure tones during this sensitive period, develop absolute pitch.
  • Common hearing problems include hearing loss and deafness, as well as hearing unwanted sounds, such as tinnitus.

5. Describe key processes in visual sensation and perception.

  • Rods and cones in the retina at the back of the eye change light into neural impulses. Cones provide detailed vision and help us perceive colour, while rods provide information about intensity of light.
  • Two different theories in combination—trichomatic theory and opponent process theory—explain a good deal of how we perceive colour.
  • The fovea at the centre of the retina contains only cones and provides our sharpest vision. We have a blind spot where the optic nerve leaves the retina to carry information to the brain.
  • Damage to the brain can produce deficits in sensation, as well as abnormal sensory experiences.
  • Top-down processing is involved in much visual perception. Gestalt theorists have identified several principles by which we recognize stimuli even when visual inputs are limited. We use binocular and monocular cues for depth perception. Perceptual constancies, based on learning from previous experiences, help us to see things as stable despite constant shifts in our visual inputs. These top-down processes can be “fooled” by visual illusions.
  • Without adequate visual stimulation through both eyes during a critical period of life, we may not develop binocular vision, a condition known as amblyopia.
  • Individuals with loss of vision can use other sensory modalities to compensate for the loss of visual information. Learning Braille with touch involves the use of brain areas normally used for vision.

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