Psychology Sensation and Perception Work Together Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3036 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

Psychology

Sensation and perception work together to help us see the world. Most people use these terms as interchangeable concepts. However, they are separate functions and each compliments the other.

Sensation is the process that allows the body to take in the stimuli from outside of it. For example, when we smell cooking, it is our sense of smell that sends the information to our brain. Our five senses are smell, sight, touch, taste and sound. If all of our senses are working, we cannot possibly sense everything around us. We may taste some of the ingredients of a prepared dish, but not all of them. The same applies to all of the senses. We hear some of the sounds around us, but because of the number of sounds available and the limit of our hearing, we do not hear everything. We may notice a smell, sound or other sensation and if it remains constant, we may not realize it there any more. For example, you may walk into a room and smell a deodorizer plugged into the wall. In fact, the smell can be rather strong to you. After a while, you may not smell it any longer because your senses have adapted to the smell. The senses collect this information from the environment and send it to the brain.

What happens in the brain is perception. It is in the brain that we make sense of our senses. One person's perception is different from another's. Our brain processes the information it already has and then processes the new information it receives from the senses. For example, if you smell a flower, your brain perceives whether it is a good smell or a bad smell. The same applies to all of our senses. Each of us can smell, taste, touch, see or hear the same thing as the person next to you, but the perception of it is based on how it is registered in your individual brain. The same perfume that smells good to you may not smell good to your friend.

We all have experiences when we look at something and it may not appear the same to you as it does your neighbor. There are various example of this, but one that is well-known is the picture that is either an old lady or a young lady, depending on how "you look at it." The same applies to looking lines that are the same length, but look like they are a different length.

One example of how our sense of sight does not truly match the object is how we look at the moon. We look at the moon and our sense of sight sends this image to our brain. We look at the moon and we see a huge white orb in the sky. The size is not correct, of course. Distance plays a part in what we see, hear and smell and this makes the images relative to the surroundings. We can feel cooked spaghetti with our eyes closed and it may feel like worms to us. Open your eyes, and it no longer is objectionable.

If our senses are not working properly, we have problems with our perception of what we sense. The problem may be as simple as not seeing well and perception is of the limited vision. Another example of this could be color blindness and the perception problem it can cause in a person. For example, an image or object, which is in the color a person cannot detect, may not be seen if it is surrounded by another color that can be detected. Additionally a problem that can occur between sensation and perception may be in the person who has mental illness and perception is based on a "different" reality. Perception is based on what our own brain recognizes and how it processes the information the senses of taste, smell, touch, vision and hearing send to it.

Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical and Operant conditioning are two ways of learning. Both have the elements of response to stimuli and both are learned in response to stimuli. However, there are differences related to the person's incentives, reinforcement and active or passive learning.

Classical conditioning is when a person (or animal) learns by associating between an event and some stimulus (Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2004). An excellent example of classical conditioning is how Pavlov trained his dogs. He fed them food and watched the dogs to see what response they had, which was salivation prior to receiving the food. He then began to ring a bell prior to feeding the dogs and after a period of time, the dogs began to salivate at the sound of the bell. No food had to be present to make the dogs salivate, as they were able to associate the bell with the food.

We, as humans, have examples of classical conditioning in our lives also. For example, we can smell a good meal cooking and almost taste it, remembering the last time we ate that meal, or we can have other reactions based on classical conditioning. We could hear a dog growling and have immediate fear, with hear racing and sweat pouring off us, if we associate it with the dog bite we got last year. We all have some experiences in the past that may not be on our minds all of the time, but when one or more of our senses recognizes something, there can be an automatic response based on the experience of it. Our hearts can race and we can immediately have fear when something makes us remember a frightening memory.

Operant conditioning is easily described as the relationship between behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors (Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2004). As a child, if we write on the wall and we are punished for it, generally we will stop writing on the wall. This is a negative consequence for us and so we have learned not to do it because we are punished. If we work hard and get good grades and are rewarded with money for this, we will learn that working hard will provide some rewards.

Children learn at a young age to differentiate between behavior that is good or bad. Even before verbal skills are honed, children can learn this, just as animals can learn not to go to the bathroom on the floor while you are away. As verbal skills and reasoning improves, children learn how to behave so that they can have good consequences or not have the good rewards taken away. When homework isn't done and you are not able to go our on Friday night, you have a consequence that is a good reward being taken away. As we grow into adolescence and are more responsible for our own behavior, we can distinguish between these consequences and whether they are negative or positive. As we mature, we have more influence over what behaviors we engage in and the costs of our behavior. The consequences may not be those consequences imposed upon us by others, such as our parents or teachers. Drinking to excess causes headaches and hangovers. Driving too fast causes tickets. Negative reinforcement as well as positive reinforcement becomes an important part of our learned behavior. This type of learned behavior does not end at maturity. All of our life is filled with experiences that help us to learn what type of behavior produces the results we want. As we grow older, we learn from the experiences that make up this conditioning. Five-year-old children might eat enough ice cream to make themselves sick. A nineteen-year-old has been conditioned (operant conditioning) to know that eating too much ice cream will make them sick. Operant and classical conditioning both have places in the development of behaviors of people and animals

Memory

There are three kinds of memory. They are explicit, episodic and semantic. Although many researchers have studied memory and the description varies according to whom you ask, one way to describe memory is that it "may be broadly defined as the way past events affect future function" (Siegel, 2001).

Our earliest memories are implicit. As infants, we perceive the world around us and store those memories. We may associate a feeling of fear with certain sounds and we may react to that sound, whether or not there is any danger present. These implicit memories allow us to do things without thinking about it. For example, when you get on a bicycle, you know how to ride it without thinking about it. The same applies to when you get in your car and know how to drive. These are implicit memories that have been learned and are not consciously thought about. Implicit memories lead to the first type of memory to discuss, which is explicit memory.

Explicit memory is when we remember things that have happened. This memory is particularly true about things that have happened to us in the past. A… [END OF PREVIEW]

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