Научная электронная библиотека
Монографии, изданные в издательстве Российской Академии Естествознания

What is Perception?

The perceptual process allows us to experience the world around us. Take a moment to think of all the things you perceive on a daily basis. At any given moment, you might see familiar objects in your environment, feel the touch of objects and people against your skin, smell the aroma of a home-cooked meal and hear the sound of music playing in your next door neighbor’s apartment. All of these things help make up our conscious experience and allow us to interact with the people and objects around us.

Perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us; it allows us to act within our environment.

Perception includes the five senses; touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. It also includes what is known as proprioception, a set of senses involving the ability to detect changes in body positions and movements. It also involves the cognitive processes required to process information, such as recognizing the face of a friend or detecting a familiar scent.

The Perceptual Process

The perceptual process is a sequence of steps that begins with the environment and leads to our perception of a stimulus and an action in response to the stimulus. This process is continual, but you do not spend a great deal of time thinking about the actual process that occurs when you perceive the many stimuli that surround you at any given moment.

The process of transforming the light that falls on your retinas into an actual visual image happens unconsciously and automatically. The subtle changes in pressure against your skin that allow you to feel object occur without a single thought.

In order to fully understand how the perception process works, we’ll start by breaking down each step.

The Steps in the Perceptual Process

1. The Environmental Stimulus

2. The Attended Stimulus

3. The Image on the Retina

4. Transduction

5. Neural Processing

6. Perception

7. Recognition

8. Action

The Environmental Stimulus

The world is full of stimuli that can attract our attention through various senses. The environmental stimulus is everything in our environment that has the potential to be perceived. This might include anything that can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled or heard. It might also involve the sense of proprioception, such as the movements of the arms and legs or the change in position of the body in relation to objects in the environment.

The Attended Stimulus

The attended stimulus is the specific object in the environment on which our attention is focused. In many cases, we might focus on stimuli that are familiar to us, such as the face of a friend in a crowd of strangers at the local coffee shop. In other instances, we are likely to attend to stimuli that have some degree of novelty.

The Image on the Retina

Next, the attended stimulus is formed as an image on the retina. The first part of this process involves the light actually passing through the cornea and pupil and onto the lens of the eye. The cornea helps focus the light as it enters the eye, and the iris of the eye controls the size of the pupils in order to determine how much light to let in. The cornea and lens act together to project an inverted image on the retina.

Transduction

The image on the retina is then transformed into electrical signals in a process known as transduction. This allows the visual messages to be transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

Neural Processing

The electrical signals then undergo neural processing. The path followed by a particular signal depends on what type of signal it is (i.e. an auditory signal or a visual signal). Through the series of interconnect neurons located throughout the body, electrical signals are propagated from the receptors cells to the brain. In the next step of the perceptual process, you will actually perceive the stimuli and become aware of its presence in the environment.

Perception

In the next step of the perception process, we actually perceive the stimulus object in the environment. It is at this point that we become consciously aware of the stimulus.

Recognition

Perception doesn’t just involve becoming consciously aware of the stimuli. It is also necessary for our brain to categorize and interpret what it is we are sensing. Our ability to interpret and give meaning to the object is the next step, known as recognition.

Action

The final step of the perceptual process involves some sort of action in response to the environmental stimulus. This could involve a variety of actions, such as turning your head for a closer look or turning away to look at something else.

The action phase of perceptual development involves some type of motor action that occurs in response to the perceived and recognized stimulus. This might involve a major action, like running toward a person in distress, or something as subtle as blinking your eyes in response to a puff of dust blowing through the air.

Answer the questions

1. What is perception?

2. How many steps are there in the perceptual process?

3. What are the main steps in the perceptual process?

4. What is proprioception?

5. What senses are included in perception?

6. Does perception involve cognitive processes?

7. What is transduction?

8. Is the process of transforming the light into an actual visual image conscious or unconscious?

9. How much time does the perceptual process take?

10. What are the main functions of perception?

1. Match the word partnerships

Process

Head

Create

experience

attract

the touch

turn

the aroma

perceive

Stimuli

transmit

Attention

smell

information

detect

A message

Feel

Changes

2. Fill in the gaps with gerunds or infinitives

1. This might involve a major action, like (to run) toward a person in distress, or something as subtle as (to blink) your eyes in response to a puff of dust blowing through the air.

2. Perception doesn’t just involve (to become) consciously aware of the stimuli.

3. This could involve a variety of actions, such as (to turn) your head for a closer look or (to turn) away to look at something else.

4. It also involves the cognitive processes required (to process) information, such as (to recognize) the face of a friend or (to detect) a familiar scent.

5. The process of (to transform) the light that falls on your retinas into an actual visual image happens unconsciously and automatically.

6. We are likely (to attend) to stimuli that have some degree of novelty.

7. In order to fully (understand) how the perception process works, we’ll start by (to break down) each step.

8. Perception not only creates our experience of the world around us; it allows us (to act) within our environment.

3. Match the beginnings and the endings of the sentences

Through the perceptual process, we gain information about

that can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled or heard.

This might include anything

to the object is the next step, known as recognition.

The environmental stimulus is everything in our environment

properties and elements of the environment that are critical to our survival.

Through the series of interconnect neurons located throughout the body,

that has the potential to be perceived.

Our ability to interpret and give meaning

electrical signals are propagated from the receptors cells to the brain.


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