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absolute threshold

minimum amount of stimulus energy that must be present for the stimulus to be detected 50% of the time


continuation of a visual sensation after removal of the stimulus


height of a wave


basilar membrane

thin strip of tissue within the cochlea that contains the hair cells which serve as the sensory receptors for the auditory system

binaural cue

two-eared cue to localize sound

binocular cue

cue that relies on the use of both eyes

binocular disparity

slightly different view of the world that each eye receives

blind spot

point where we cannot respond to visual information in that portion of the visual field

bottom-up processing

system in which perceptions are built from sensory input



organizing our perceptions into complete objects rather than as a series of parts


fluid-filled, snail-shaped structure that contains the sensory receptor cells of the auditory system

cochlear implant

electronic device that consists of a microphone, a speech processor, and an electrode array to directly stimulate the auditory nerve to transmit information to the brain

conductive hearing loss

failure in the vibration of the eardrum and/or movement of the ossicles


specialized photoreceptor that works best in bright light conditions and detects color

congenital deafness

deafness from birth

congenital insensitivity to pain (congenital analgesia)

genetic disorder that results in the inability to experience pain


transparent covering over the eye



partial or complete inability to hear

decibel (dB)

logarithmic unit of sound intensity

depth perception

ability to perceive depth


electromagnetic spectrum

all the electromagnetic radiation that occurs in our environment


figure-ground relationship

segmenting our visual world into figure and ground


small indentation in the retina that contains cones


number of waves that pass a given point in a given time period


Gestalt psychology

field of psychology based on the idea that the whole is different from the sum of its parts

good continuation

(also, continuity) we are more likely to perceive continuous, smooth flowing lines rather than jagged, broken lines


hair cell

auditory receptor cell of the inner ear

hertz (Hz)

cycles per second; measure of frequency


inattentional blindness

failure to notice something that is completely visible because of a lack of attention


middle ear ossicle; also known as the anvil

inflammatory pain

signal that some type of tissue damage has occurred

interaural level difference

sound coming from one side of the body is more intense at the closest ear because of the attenuation of the sound wave as it passes through the head

interaural timing difference

small difference in the time at which a given sound wave arrives at each ear


colored portion of the eye


just noticeable difference

difference in stimuli required to detect a difference between the stimuli



perception of the body’s movement through space



curved, transparent structure that provides additional focus for light entering the eye

linear perspective

perceive depth in an image when two parallel lines seem to converge



middle ear ossicle; also known as the hammer

Meissner’s corpuscle

touch receptor that responds to pressure and lower frequency vibrations

Ménière's disease

results in a degeneration of inner ear structures that can lead to hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and an increase in pressure within the inner ear

Merkel’s disk

touch receptor that responds to light touch

monaural cue

one-eared cue to localize sound

monocular cue

cue that requires only one eye


neuropathic pain

pain from damage to neurons of either the peripheral or central nervous system


sensory signal indicating potential harm and maybe pain


olfactory bulb

bulb-like structure at the tip of the frontal lobe, where the olfactory nerves begin

olfactory receptor

sensory cell for the olfactory system

opponent-process theory of color perception

color is coded in opponent pairs: black-white, yellow-blue, and red-green

optic chiasm

X-shaped structure that sits just below the brain’s ventral surface; represents the merging of the optic nerves from the two eyes and the separation of information from the two sides of the visual field to the opposite side of the brain

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