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Sensation (psychology)

sensation (psychology), sensation psychology quizlet
Sensation is the body's detection of external or internal stimulation eg, eyes detecting light waves, ears detecting sound waves Perception utilizes the brain to make sense of the stimulation eg, seeing a chair, hearing a guitar

Sensation involves three steps:

  1. Sensory receptors detect stimuli
  2. Sensory stimuli are transduced into electrical impulses action potentials to be decoded by the brain
  3. Electrical impulses move along neural pathways to specific parts of the brain wherein the impulses are decoded into useful information perception

For example, when touched by a soft feather, mechanoreceptors – which are sensory receptors in the skin – register that the skin has been touched That sensory information is then turned into neural information through a process called transduction Next, the neural information travels down neural pathways to the appropriate part of the brain, wherein the sensations are perceived as the touch of a feather

Children are often taught five basic senses: seeing ie, vision, hearing ie, audition, tasting ie, gustation, smelling ie, olfaction, and touching However, there are actually many more senses including vestibular sense, kinesthetic sense, sense of thirst, sense of hunger, and cutaneous sense to name a few


  • 1 Measuring sensations
  • 2 Types of Sensations
    • 21 Visual
    • 22 Auditory
    • 23 Gustatory
    • 24 Olfactory
    • 25 Somatosensory
      • 251 Cutaneous sensations
      • 252 Proprioception
    • 26 Osmoreception
  • 3 Loss of sensation
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References

Measuring sensationsedit

Psychologists who specialize in psychophysics measure sensory sensitivity by identifying:

  1. The absolute threshold – the minimum amount of stimulation that a person can detect 50% of the time
  2. The difference threshold or just noticeable difference – the minimum difference that must happen between two stimuli for the body to identify them as two separate sensations 50% of the time
  3. The terminal threshold – the maximum amount of stimulation that a person can sense

Types of Sensationsedit


Main article: Visual perception

The wavelength, intensity and complexity of Light are detected by visual receptors in the retina of the eye There are two types of visual receptors: rods and cones1 Rods are sensitive to dim light, which makes them useful for seeing at night Cones are more sensitive to color and bright light, which makes them more useful in daylight Signals from rods and cones are transduced into useful neural information via the optic nerve Blindness is the complete or nearly complete inability to see2


Main article: Auditory perception

The frequency, intensity, and complexity of sounds waves in the external world are detected by auditory receptors cilia or hair cell receptors in the ear Different patterns of cilia movement lead to different neural codes, which ultimately lead to hearing different loudness, pitch, and timbre of sounds Deafness or hearing loss may occur in one or both ears3


Main article: Taste

Taste receptors ie, taste buds or papillae are activated by the presence of food or another object on the tongue45 Four basic tastes include sweet, salty, sour, and bitter67 There is some debate on whether umami, or meatiness, is a fifth basic flavor8 Aging is associated with loss of intensity in taste9 Complete inability to taste is called ageusia


Main article: Olfaction

Smells in the external world activate hair receptors in nostrils These receptors then send signals to the olfactory bulb, which is located at the base of the brain Anosmia is the inability to smell


Main article: Somatosensory system

Somatosensory sensations occur when receptors detect changes on one's skin or within one's body

Cutaneous sensationsedit

Sensations on the skin are detected by cutaneous receptors These receptors may feel sensations such as pain, tickle, cold, hot, soft, and rough Mechanoreceptors detect light pressure eg, caress, vibration, and texture, nocicreceptors detect strong pressure eg, pain, and thermoreceptors detect temperature

For example, if your dog lightly presses its nose on your leg, mechanoreceptors in your skin will sense the smooth texture of your dog’s nose whereas thermoreceptors will detect its coldness When a dog bites someone, nociceptors detect the sharp pressure Astereognosis is the inability to identify an object by touch


Main article: Proprioception

Proprioception is the “sense of bodily position” It includes the vestibular sense ie, one’s sense of balance and kinesthetic sense ie, one’s awareness of one’s movements


Osmoreception is the body’s sensation of thirst When the amount of water in one’s body falls below a certain threshold, the concentration of osmolytes eg salt increase in one’s blood10 Osmoreceptors, or sensory receptors in the hypothalamus, detect these changes in osmotic concentration These signals are then transferred to neural signals of thirst

Loss of sensationedit

Main article: Sensory loss

Many types of sensory loss occur due to a dysfunctional sensation process, whether it be ineffective receptors, nerve damage, or cerebral impairment Unlike agnosia, these impairments are due to damages prior to the perception process Conditions do exist where the patient experiences sensory loss, but experimental evidence shows that the effect is perception based

See alsoedit

  • Perception
  • Transduction
  • Sense


  1. ^ Hecht, Selig 1937 "Rods, cones, and the chemical basis of vision" Physiological Reviews 17: 239–290 
  2. ^ Maberley, D a L; Hollands, H; Chuo, J; Tam, G; Konkal, J; Roesch, M; Veselinovic, A; Witzigmann, M; Bassett, K 2005-05-20 "The prevalence of low vision and blindness in Canada" Eye 20 3: 341–346 doi:101038/sjeye6701879 ISSN 0950-222X PMID 15905873 
  3. ^ World Health Organization March 2015 "Deafness and hearing loss Fact sheet N°300" http://wwwwhoint/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/  External link in |website= help
  4. ^ Kinnamon, S C 2000-03-01 "A plethora of taste receptors" Neuron 25 3: 507–510 doi:101016/s0896-62730081054-5 ISSN 0896-6273 PMID 10774719 
  5. ^ Dulac, Catherine 2000 "The Physiology of Taste, Vintage 2000" Cell 100 6: 607–610 doi:101016/s0092-86740080697-2 PMID 10761926 
  6. ^ Reed, Danielle R; Tanaka, Toshiko; McDaniel, Amanda H 2006-06-30 "Diverse tastes: Genetics of sweet and bitter perception" Physiology & Behavior Proceedings from the 2005 Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior 88 3: 215–226 doi:101016/jphysbeh200605033 PMC 1698869 PMID 16782140 
  7. ^ Margolskee, Robert F 2002-01-04 "Molecular Mechanisms of Bitter and Sweet Taste Transduction" Journal of Biological Chemistry 277 1: 1–4 doi:101074/jbcR100054200 ISSN 0021-9258 PMID 11696554 
  8. ^ Breslin, Paul AS; Spector, Alan C 2008 "Mammalian taste perception" Current Biology 18 4: R148–R155 doi:101016/jcub200712017 
  9. ^ Schiffman, Susan S 1997-10-22 "Taste and Smell Losses in Normal Aging and Disease" JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 278 16: 1357 doi:101001/jama199703550160077042 ISSN 0098-7484 
  10. ^ Seale, AP; Watanabe, S; Grau, EG 2012 "Osmoreception: Perspectives on signal transduction and environmental modulation" General and Comparative Endocrinology 176 3: 354–360 doi:101016/jygcen201110005 

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