I think that perception psychology should be taken by all psychology majors. Understanding how we perceive things is crucial to understanding how the mind works. We use all of our senses to interpret things, touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. The course focuses heavily on physiology, explaining how we really get the impulses of what we perceive to our brain. The brain is heavily studied, as well as the areas of the brain where we perceive such information. Vision is a very big part of the course, because I think that it is the strongest one of our senses, and the most heavily used. Vision is received in the occipital lobe of the brain. Hearing is received in the temporal lobe in the brain, and tactile senses are gathered in the parietal lobe. All of these modalities in the brain work together and coordinate with the help of the frontal lobe.
My favorite part in the course was the section on the cutaneous senses, which deals with how we perceive pain from stimulation of the skin. I think it is very interesting how people have all different thresholds for the amount of pain they can handle. Another part of this chapter that really caught my attention was… attention. I think it is fascinating that we can not realize that we are hurt until we visually see that we are hurt. Our body doesn’t perceive the information right away because we are focused on something else. As our attention shifts because of something startling (blood, open wound, etc.) then we begin to feel pain and panic. I think that it's really neat that people can learn to control their pain with their minds, and refocus their attention on a different stimulus.
Last September, after Hurricane Irene, I was running and found a little baby squirrel in the middle of the road, near a dead squirrel. This little squirrel was covered in bugs and couldn’t move. I had to bring him home and nurse him back to health. He was severely dehydrated and lacking a mother to care for him. By the time he was old enough to be let go, the weather was too cold to release him, he had never been on his own In the cold before. We kept him throughout the winter, and tried to release him in the spring by adapting him slowly to his environment He sat on our back step and didn’t go anywhere. Long story short, he is currently residing in a gigantic cage in my room, and we take him out every night to play with him.
Having said this, I was curious about his depth perception after reading the chapter. He falls a lot. When he was younger, he was very afraid to leave the comforts of his cage, then he became able to climb on the top of his cage and explore – never leaving it. A few months ago, he finally got accustom to the ground, and then before we knew it, he was climbing and jumping… and falling.
Squirrels have eyes on the sides of their head, which is called lateral vision. This means that they do not have overlapping fields of view.
This positioning of the eyes is fantastic for predators, but terrible for depth perception. Looking outside, one might think that squirrels have good depth perception, because they are constantly hopping from tree to tree. Frontal eyes would really benefit squirrels because it would give them greater depth perception; however they would loose the benefit of being able to see predators as easily. I tried to get a good video of rocky jumping. He often misjudges distances and either jumps too far, or not far enough, causing him to fall.
Here are some videos of Rocky jumping, some successful, some not. It is difficult to get a squirrel to demonstrate things on command!
I think that perception psychology is a field that can have many benefits to us, not only now, but in the future because technology is always getting better and more advanced. My grandfather has lost his peripheral vision because of a stroke that he had behind his eye. He is devastated because he cannot drive anymore because the stroke affected his sense of depth perception as well. Learning more about the eye and how we perceive things can help him possibly gain his eyesight back, through advances in therapy. He has told us that in his eye therapy, specialists use bright colored lights and assign him tasks to do while looking into the light,and force him to stimulate his eyesight. I think that in the future, through learning and advances in perception, it may help maybe not him, but others with similar eye problems.