Sensation and Perception - Introduction
Imagine you are hiking into a valley on the tops of various mountains. You strenuously reach the top of a particular peak. Breathing heavily, you let out a sigh in triumph as you reach the top. Around yourself, you see a lake surrounded by the valley on three sides. Feeling the wind rush against your face, you yell a loud, "hello" and listen for an echo.
© John Vander
This nature scene just brought the lesson at hand to focus: sensation and perception. Sensation is when a
stimulus, something that causes a physical or mental response, is received by one of the various sense organs of the body
(eg. the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin/touch) and are fed into the brain.
Each of the structures and systems that make up our senses have specialized structures called
sensory receptors. These receptors are specialized cells that receive an incoming stimulus through a sense system and are able to translate this stimulus into an electrical impulse the brain can use. Special sensory neurons are located at these receptors, capable of translating the stimulus into an electrical impulse the brain can interpret.
Perception refers to how we take sensory input and translate it into something
that can be interpreted and organized by our brain. The way you are perceiving the environment around you involves your brain communicating with all your senses. The echo you hear, the way you're able to tell the lake is surrounded by mountains, are all examples of
the way we use perception.