Essay on Sensation and Perception

4 pages
954 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Sensation and perception are two related and complementary processes that play different roles in human body throughout the lifespan. The sensation is the process encoding and sensing stimulus energy in the world through sense organs. The brain transforms sensation into action potential through transduction and message is delivered to the brain where perception is produced. Perception, on the other hand, refers to the process of forming and interpreting sensory information to create meaning. It helps people rationalize and make sense especially on information associated with the physical stimulus. The paper aims at analyzing how the two terms work mutually to process the stimulus.

The sensation picked by sensory organs involves four main types which are visual, auditory, gustatory, and olfactory. The visual receptors located in the eye retina detects the intensity, wavelength, and complexity of light. The structures enable the person to see different colors, textures, and shapes as well as heights and frequency. In the ear, the auditory receptors such as hair cell receptors and cilia detect the complexity, frequency, and intensity of the sound waves. The auditory structures convert the wavelengths into vibrations that are transferred into neutral impulses (Welfel, 2012).

Taste receptors on the other hand use papillae or taste buds to activate the presence of food in on the tongue. The molecules interact with saliva at the microvilli in the taste buds to send messages to the brain of the taste of something. It shows if something is salty, sour or sweet. Lastly, the nostrils use the hair receptors to detect smells in the external environment. The hair cells respond to particular chemicals and start the process of filtering the foreign particles from entering the nasal cavity (Welfel, 2012).

The sensation starts in three primary steps in the human sensory organs. Firstly, the sensory receptors detect a stimulus from the environment. The eyes, nostrils, and ears which are the primary sensory receptors convert the stimulus information from the outside environment into electrochemical impulses that act as action potentials and which are the only language understood by the brain. The formed electrical impulses are then transformed into a transduction process. Transduction begins when the sensory neuron detects a physical stimulus such as sound waves or light and proceeds to activate receptors through converting their excitation into nerve signal (Faisal, Selen & Wolpert, 2008).

The signal is transferred through the sensory pathway to specific sensory processing zones in the brain. Once it has reached the brain, the process of perception is activated. The brain starts the process of extracting critical information from the stimulus and therefore transfer information into the nervous system. The brain receives the signals from the eyes, ears, and nostrils and shapes the recipients attention, memory, and learning (Coren, 2003). This makes an individual response to any activity in the environment.

The process of perception comprises of two primary operations. The first process involves processing the sensory input which entails transforming low-level information to high-level information. For instance, an individual can extract shapes of things for recognition. Subsequently, another process is connected to an individuals expectations, concepts, and selective mechanisms. Although perception in the brains looks like a complex matter, the nervous systems make it smooth, and one cannot notice because it happens mainly outside conscious awareness (Welfel, 2012).

In the vision, the brain picks the signal from the visual receptors to convert it to make sense. The intensity, position, and color of incoming light are captured by the retinal ganglion cells, rods, and photosensitive cells. Additionally, the neutrons of retina provide space for movement of these aspects of light and then they are forwarded to the brain through optic nerve (Welfel, 2012). The brains convert the signal into information and enable an individual to react to the light such as blinking, closing eyes, and other responses.

Regarding the auditory system, the brain plays a crucial role in converting vibrations into real information. The sound waves collected and filtered by the outer ears are transformed into neutral signals that are sent to the brain. The signals are processed in the primary auditory cortex that is located in the temporal lobe of the brain. The result is enabling a person to hear various sounds in his/her surrounding and allows one to respond to the stimuli (Goldstein & Brockmole, 2016).

Touch is another form of perception that is processed by the brain. This is achieved through a haptic perception which involves recognizing things through touch. The skin has several receptors that send the signals to the brain which interprets them into information. The brain through the somatosensory perception of patterns located on the skin enables one to have a touch of texture, edges, and curvature of objects. Furthermore, the brain assists in responding to the stimuli by moving the fingers over the surface of the object and handling them. Lastly, the brain is significant in enabling a person to have the ability to taste flavors of various substances. The molecules at the microvilli send signals to the brain where the information is sent back to the taste buds. The taste buds help an individual to have a feeling of bitterness, saltiness, sourness or any other taste (Goldstein & Brockmole, 2016).

Conclusively, the paper has extensively analyzed the relationships between sensations and perceptions in processing a stimulus. The interactions between sensory receptors and crucial parts of the brain in concerting neutral signals into information have been explained.



Coren, S. (2003). Sensation and perception. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Faisal, A. A., Selen, L. P., & Wolpert, D. M. (2008). Noise in the nervous system. Nature reviews neuroscience, 9(4), 292-303.

Goldstein, E. B., & Brockmole, J. (2016). Sensation and perception. Cengage Learning.

Welfel, E.R. (2012). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy: Standards, research, and emerging issues. (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole


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