Psychology: Sensory Processes: Sensation, Attention and Perception

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Sensation can be explained as the process by which one form of energy is converted into another form. For example, light is converted into neural impulses by which we code sensory events in our system that can be processed by the brain.

The minimum amount of physical energy needed to produce a sensory experience is called “absolute threshold”.

  • Vision- We experience vision with help of our eyes.

  • Color blindness-Color blindness is partial or total inability to distinguish colors.

  • Hearing- It is one of the principal sensory modality for human communication.

  • Pitch- It is highness or lowness of a sound determined by the sound’s frequency.

  • Loudness- It is the physical intensity of sound is determined by its amplitude.

  • Timbre- The quality of a sound wave’s complexity is its timbre.

  • Vestibular sense ( sense of bodily orientation)

  • Kinesthetic sense ( senses of bodily position and the movement of body parts)

  • Olfaction ( sense of smell)

  • Gustation ( sense of taste)


Perception is next stage in which an internal representation of an object is formed. Perception involves synthesis of simple sensory features into percept of an object that can be recognized.

Perceptual Organization

Perception is an organized process.

Perceptual organization

Perceptual Organization

  • Law of perceptual grouping- The factors which determine perceptual grouping are proximity, similarity, continuity, closure and common region.

  • Perceptual constancy- The perceptual constancy is found in all senses. There are shape, size and brightness constancy.

  • Depth perception


Attention is the process by which we notice stimuli. Selective attention is a process in which we give priority to a particular sensory message. ‘Selective attention’ is a process in which we give priority to a particular incoming sensory message. Attention has broadly three possible functions: (a) as a sensory filter (b) as a response selection and (c) as a gateway to consciousness. The determinants of attention are physical factors and motive.

Extrasensory Perception

Extra sensory perception is the ability to perceive objects or events in ways that cannot be explained by known sensory capacities. Clairvoyance, pre-cognition and psychokinesis are some of examples of extrasensory perception.

Application of Perception in Everyday Life

Knowledge of perceptual psychology helps in everyday life and in learning how to improve our attention and perception.

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