Module Introduction

Sensation and Perception

Module Introduction

Topics Covered:

  • Sensation
  • Perception

V. S. Ramachandran, M.D., a famous neurologist and researchers gives us these words to begin to describe the process of sensation and perception. Review ” The Tell-Tale Brain ” from Wikipedia.

Most humans have no idea how complex and extraordinary we must be to have the ability to move about, and understand, the world around us. The sights, the smells, the touch, the taste, the hearing that all comes together to give meaning, and emotions, to our world.

In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of our senses. We will study the senses mentioned previously as well as 5 newly defined senses that allow us to safely and surely go about our daily undertakings. To fully understand our humanness, we will study how we receive and process sensory information and how that process gives meaning to our daily lives.

The first step in the study of sensation and perception is to understand the difference between, and connection of, the two. Sensation is how we take information in through our senses; perception is how we process that information in order to use it (perhaps for safety, or maybe for pleasure). Sensation comes to us in different forms: Chemical (taste, smell), Sound waves (hearing), Light waves (vision), or Touch (pain, pressure, temperature). You will learn how minimal a sensation must be to be detected, as well as what happens when we have too much (sensory overload).

Perception, is the process the brain and CNS uses to interpret these sensations. Perception is not only what we are exposed to at any point in time, it is also the mental representations we have gained, through experience, that give meaning to the sensation. For example, we all have a mental representation of a chair and what a chair is used for. Chairs do not have to be identical for us to label the object as a “chair”. Our learned, mental representations give us that understanding. Can you think of something you may have encountered that you did not “understand”? Perhaps a tool or implement that you could not identify. You had no mental representation that allowed you to give meaning to that device. You will also learn how culture affects our perception and mental representations in ways that you might not have thought of. For instance, think for a moment about food and seasonings across cultures.

You will want to access the “Links to Learning” in the chapter to give you a better understanding of the theories and concepts presented in the chapter. These links will explain concepts of vision and hearing that are important to your understanding.

The supplemental readings and videos for this module will help to enhance your learning as well as providing interesting ways of understanding the material. (2)

Learning Outcomes Related to This Module

1. Demonstrates the ability to think critically
3. Articulates an understanding of the individual in society
5. Thinks critically about institutions, cultures and behaviors of the people of the world
6. Comprehends the biopsychosocial aspects of behavior and mental processes
7. Synthesizes empirical information to draw accurate evidence-based conclusions about behavior and mental processes


Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the foundations of Sensation and Perception and their effects on behavior and mental processes
  2. Define the difference between Sensation and Perception
  3. Define the senses and understand the process of transduction
  4. Define the parts of the body involved in vision and hearing
  5. Describe the sense receptors and process involved in touch
  6. Explain the theory of Gestalt Principles of Perception (1)

Assigned Readings

Note: You will need to click on “Get This Book” button to download the textbook. Students are not required to purchase a textbook. You can download the entire Psychology textbook from OpenStax for free.

Supplemental Material/Resources

(Note: This material, in the media form of online videos, is considered supplemental and thus is not used for assessment purposes.)

Assignments | Learning Activities

  • Read Module Introduction
  • Complete Assigned Readings
  • Complete Critical Thinking Assignment 4
  • Midterm Exam