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Sensation and Perception

Introduction

Table of Contents

The Senses

Thanks to the nose, ears, eyes, tongue, and skin, we can imagine a day at the beach: glimmering blue sky, salty water, warm sand, and crying seagulls. Our knowledge of the world depends on the senses: vision, hearing, taste, smell, position, movement, balance, and touch. If someone bounces a basketball, our eyes and ears pick up stimuli such as light and sound waves and send neural signals to the brain. This process called sensation occurs when physical energy from objects in the world or in the body stimulates the sense organs.

However, only when the signals come together meaningfully do we actually perceive a bouncing basketball. Perception happens when the brain organizes and interprets sensory information. Sensation and perception occur together, and normally we don’t distinguish between the two separate processes. We use all five of our senses and organize the information we get from them every day of our lives.

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