This course has taught me the processes that take place in order for us to perceive everything in everyday life. Most of the processes we, as humans, are completely unaware of. There are four categories of processes that take place in order for us to perceive the world around us: stimulus, electricity, experience and action, and knowledge. Light is the stimulus for vision. Vision is based on a band of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum. The experience of perception connects us with our environment. Perception gives us the feeling that we are in direct contact with the environment when it is really just an illusion. The sensations of smell and taste are also indirect even though they feel so real. Optic flow helps us to perceive the elements in a scene around us. Something in the distance appears small and grows bigger as we approach it and flow is more rapid near us. The purpose of motion perception is to make us aware of what is happening around us which is linked to survival.
Perceiving color does more for us than just beautify our world. Color helps us identify and classify objects. All colors we perceive can be categorized as red, yellow, green, blue, and their combinations. Different colors are perceived based on the wavelengths reflected. If a wavelength is short the color that may appear is blue. Color constancy allows us to identify colors in different lighting. Depth perception allows us to see distances in our environment. We also learned that sound has two definitions: a physical definition and a perceptual definition. Perceptions are created by the action of the molecular structures on the nervous system.
One topic of interest to me was the perception of motion and taking action. I did gymnastics for 8 years and never really thought about the complexity of balance. How are gymnast able to keep balance in order to tumble across a 4 inch wide beam for flip through the air and still be able to land on his/her feet? Much of our ability to keep balance has to do with vision. Trying to stay up right while standing on one foot becomes much more difficult when you have your eyes closed, but certainly not impossible. I found a video of a teenage gymnast who suffers from a condition that has left her with no depth perception and little peripheral vision. How is she able to keep balance?
This course has made me further think about the perception of pain as my mother suffers from RSD which causes her chronic pain. Doctors do not know the cause of the disease and there is no physical evidence for why these patients experience pain. According to our book, pain can occur when there is no stimulation of the skin. It also says that pain can be influenced by what the person expects.
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