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Sensation and Perception: the Building Blocks of Reality Part 1

Faith Brock | 17 September, 2021

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Biological processes make humanity both unique and complex, a showcase of the brilliance of intelligent design and not a mere byproduct of random adaptation. The human body is set apart from the animal kingdom due to the intricate ability to reason and draw analytical conclusions based on sensory stimuli. Humans do not need to rely solely on instinct or the “natural or inherent aptitude, impulse or capacity” in response to “environmental stimuli without reason” (Merriam-Webster, 2021) even though our parasympathetic system allows for quick reactionary responses when the brain interprets danger. Mere sensory stimuli interpretation does not broaden the horizon intellectually, however. For humans to be further set apart, perception is needed as the twin interpreter to sensory stimuli to accurately see the world since “our ability to ‘accurately’ see the world around us is perhaps one of the most important abilities humans possess” (George et al, 2020, p. 112).

 

 

Sensation and Perception: The Building Blocks of Reality

Perceptions are not completely technical as they are more a “dynamic process” (George et all, 2020, p.96) and are always changing as stimuli change. One major system responsible for this dynamic process are neural patterns and the levels of brain activity that are linked to memory, thought processes, consciousness, and the mind. This system is “independent of the physical medium or specific environmental energy involved” with the neural activity inside the brain (George et al, 2020, p. 96). The neural activity being conducted to interpret stimuli is defined as transduction, or “the process of converting a physical stimulus into a meaningful and useful neural signal” (George et al, 2020, p. 100). Transduction can be influenced or impacted by modality (different forms of energy) intensity (amount of sensation), duration (lasting effect of a sensation), and location of stimuli.

 

The Case of Reality

Even though perceptual interpretation is uniquely different from human to human, reality is derived from awareness of the stimuli since the sensory systems relay information from the stimuli through “very similar biochemical and neural mechanism” (George et al, 2020, p.101). For example, diagnosis in modern medicine is made after subjective and objective attributes of a person’s ailments are investigated such as the acronym OLDCARTS (Onset, Location, Duration, Characterization, Alleviating or Aggravating Factors, Radiation, Temporal patterns/timing, and Severity) suggest.

The biochemical and neural mechanisms mentioned above are in reference to sensory receptors classified as exteroceptors (responding receptors from environment energy or stimuli outside the body like light, sound, touch, and chemicals), proprioceptors (receptors activated by muscular movement), and interoceptors (receptors that respond to stimuli inhaled, ingested or passed).

Sensory receptors are further elaborated upon due to the nature of energy affecting the body. These receptors are as follows: photoreceptors (receptors sensitive to light), mechanoreceptors (receptors that sense motion and deformations of solids, liquids, and gas), chemoreceptors (receptors that detect water and chemicals), thermoreceptors (receptors that are temperature sensitive), and nocireceptors (receptors that respond to pain stimuli). Perception is exhibited through detection, discrimination, and identification.

Closing

This study on perception and sensation will cover one to two more parts. This post serves as the introduction to our analysis on the psychology of belief. God made us uniquely complex, yet amazingly simple. 

 

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