Paul Nervy Notes
“Jokes, poems, stories, and a lot of philosophy, psychology, and sociology.”

Main page

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  .This section is about sense and perception.  Topics include: ( ) Perception.  ( ) Senses.    ( )   ( ) Vision.  ( )   ( ) Hearing.  ( )   ( ) Smell and Taste.  ( ) Touch.  ---  1/24/2006

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  (1) We miss a lot of sense data simply due to not being physically able to sense it.  For example, humans cannot sense infra-red radiation or x-ray radiation.  (2) Humans fail to perceive a lot of sense data due to the sheer volume of data.  For example, you can't see everything in a quick glance.  You can't hear everything at first listen.  (3) Of the data that we do sense, some data we perceive and are conscious of, and some data we perceive but are unconscious of.  For example, experiments show that humans who are shown cue cards at a rate too fast to perceive consciously can guess correctly at a higher than average rate due to perceiving them unconsciously.  ---  5/25/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  A completely different set of senses would give us a completely different set of perceptions, and thus a completely different category system.  ---  6/12/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Anatomy and physiology of the brain and the body. Types of nerve cells.  Sensory organ nerve cells.  Transfer nerve cells.  Brain nerve cells.  ---  12/28/2003

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Are there disorders of senses as distinct from disorders of perception?  Examples: Blurry vision is a disorder of sensation.  Double vision is a disorder of sensation.  Frostbite is a disorder of sensation.  Sight being out of sync with hearing seems like a disorder of perception.  Temporary blindness or deafness seems like a disorder of perception.  ---  5/30/2005

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Body sense.  How is feeling a human body different from feeling most other objects?  When we feel a human body, for example, a lover, we are unconsciously on the alert for three layers: skin, muscle and bone.  That is, we are used to "looking for" three layers.  That is, we are used to trying to find three layers.  (2) This act of sensing layers in the physical world may have helped lead to a mental model of looking for layers in the world of ideas.  The human body, our first and closest source of knowledge, has a phenomena of layers of skin, flesh and bone which lets us develop an abstract notion of layers, levels, substratum, in a way that our interactions with rocks and other inanimate solid objects cannot.  (3) From the body ancient humans also developed basic abstract notions of structure (from bone), function (from muscle) and surface appearances (from skin), and then applied these notions to the rest of the world.  ---  2/13/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Body sense.  We do not sense our environment only.  We also sense ourselves.  We feel that we are embodied.  When we are in the womb we have very little sense input about our environment and most of our sense input is about our bodies.  Body sense is an important yet often overlooked form of sensing.  ---  1/31/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Distance and the senses.  (1) Sight.  We can see farther than we can hear.  (2) Hearing.  We can hear farther than we can smell.  (3) Smell.  We can smell farther than we can taste and touch.  (4) Taste and touch.  We can taste and touch only what is right next to us.  ---  12/2/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  For many people, all the meaning is wrapped up in material things.  All their thoughts, emotions and memories are connected to physical objects.  So not only are humans embodied as people, but our mental lives are also "embodied" in physical things.  (2) At one time in our past, humans were much more sense oriented than they are today.  Our senses continue to hold evolutionary sway over us, a kind of biological influence.  (3) In some way, a type of meaning is tied to each of the senses.  But humans have very limited vocabularies to discuss the meanings of the senses.  Even less vocabulary than that used to discuss the meanings of emotions.  ---  2/13/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Foreground and background; center and margin.  We can look near or far, by changing the focus of our depth of field.  But we can only hear one way.  We can't control hearing the way we can control depth perception.  Or can we?  Given multiple inputs for any sense, we can choose to focus our sense perceptions on any particular object.  That is, we create shifting foregrounds and backgrounds with each sense.  In other words, we create shifting center and margin with each sense.  ---  6/3/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Hearing.  Humans can "tune things out" with our hearing, especially when concentrating on a task.  ---  6/14/2004

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  How do the specific senses contribute to our general thinking abilities?  (1) Sight and hearing are omnivorous, and as a result sight and hearing may have helped develop general thinking skills that help us gather all sorts of ideas and process all sorts of ideas.  Imaginative thinking and hypothetical thinking may have evolved from this.  (2) Taste, smell and touch are more finicky and selective senses than sight and hearing, and as a result, taste, smell and touch may have helped develop general thinking abilities that help us select and critique ideas.     PART TWO. You will notice that we often imagine (create?) visual pictures, so apparently our ability to imagine visual pictures is very great.  Our ability to imagine (create?) new sounds is also very great, as shown by the whistling and singing that we do spontaneously and often.  However, our ability to imagine new smells, tastes and touches is very limited.  Try as I might, I cannot imagine even one new smell, taste or touch.  ---  5/25/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  How do we create a unified sensory image?  Is it simply by each of the senses working together in real time?  Real time sensory processing is something that we seem to take for granted.  Is there any animal that does not process sensory data in real time?  Is it even possible not to process sensory data in real time?  Would it serve an evolutionary purpose not to be able to process sense data in real time?  PART TWO.  Isn't the term "real time sensory processing" just a euphemism for how fast your reflexes are?  And doesn't that vary from species to species and individual to individual?  And furthermore, reflexes must have two parts.  For example, a starfish and a sloth are both slow moving animals.  Are they slow because of the link from the sensory nerve endings to the central nervous system?  Or are they slow because of the link from the central nervous system to the muscles that control movement?  ---  5/25/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  If our different senses have different reaction times then how does the brain produce a unified image?  It seems impossible that all the senses have exactly the same reaction time, yet the image in our mind is always completely synchronized.  ---  5/30/2005

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Nerve impulse speed and sensation.  Let's say that impulses travel along nerve fibers at a set rate.  Two questions arise.  (1) The motor nerves that control the muscles in the bicep are a shorter distance to the brain than the motor nerves in the calf.  And yet a person walks easily across the room.  How?  (2) The sensory nerves in the skin on the bicep travel a shorter distance to the brain than the sensory nerves on the skin of the calf.  And yet when a person bumps into the wall it appears to the person to happen all at once.  How?  ---  5/30/2005

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Our senses give us a partial picture of what is out there.  For example, humans can only perceive the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum known as visible light.  An object may be reflecting electromagnetic radiation beyond that range but we don't see it.  Another example, Humans can only perceive sounds that fall within a certain frequency range.   An object may be emitting sound frequencies beyond that range but we don't hear it.  Other species of animals may well be able to perceive things beyond humans.  For example, bats have sonar and elephants can hear low frequency sounds.  Humans only have a partial perception of "reality".  ---  3/15/2005

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception as a function of (1) Sensitivity: both senses and emotions.  (2) Pattern recognizing: thinking.  We do not feel and think because we are perceptive, rather, we are perceptive because we can feel and think.  ---  5/15/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception is a function of what captures your attention or where you direct your attention.  What you perceive is based on what your brain thinks is important to attend to.  Our attention is directed to what consciously and unconsciously interests us.  So perception is based on attention which is based on interest.  ---  6/12/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception is an ability that develops over a lifetime.  How do sense and perception trigger emotion and thinking?  Sense and perception trigger emotion and thought via memory.  Since memories accumulate over a lifetime, one can argue that perception develops over a lifetime.  ---  5/17/2005

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception of motion is simply the perception of change of position through time, just as perception of melody is simply perception of change of pitch through time, and just as we also perceive change of taste, smell and touch through time.  Yet scientists remain captivated by the perception of motion for no good reason.     PART TWO.  Perception of color is simply perceiving a wider portion of the spectrum than black and white, just as a piece of music can incorporate a wider portion of the sound spectrum, and just as the other sense of taste, smell and touch can capture a wider portion of their spectrums.  Yet scientist remain captivated by color vision for no good reason.  ---  6/3/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception.  How perceptive you are depends on your general knowledge and powers of situation analysis.  Momentary, and in general.  What you perceive has a lot to do with what's already in your head (attitudes).  See attribution theory.  ---  12/30/1992

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception.  Our perceptions are shaped (influenced) by our memories, emotions and thoughts.  Thus, perception is something that happens from the brain outward.  Sense is something that occurs from the outside moving inward.  ---  6/14/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception.  PART ONE.  Two uses of the word "perception".  (1) "Perception" as interpretation by the brain of low level sense data.  The use of the word refers to processing of the individual senses.  (ex. visual perception, sound perception, etc.).  This is closer to the technical use.  This is what I use.  (2) "Perception" of situations, events, people, etc.  This is a less exact, looser use of the term that refers to our general impressions of a thing.     PART TWO.  How important is perception?  That is to say, how much processing occurs between the raw data of our sense inputs and how it appears in our brain?  If little processing occurs in our brain between our sense data and our mental images then perception is relatively less important.  If much processing occurs in our brain between our sense data and our mental images then perception is relatively more important.  My guess is, less processing so less important.     PART THREE.  How do we form the complete picture that we see in our minds?  How do we synchronize all our senses?  My guess is that this is a pseudo-question, and that each sense simply works in real time.     PART FOUR.  Perceptual illusions play an important role in giving us insight into how our sense perceptions work.  Many people are familiar with optical illusions, but there must also be hearing illusions, tactile illusions, taste illusions and smell illusions.  I think that the greater the number of illusions associated with a sense, and the more confusing the illusions associated with a sense, then this is an indication that the perception of a sense is a more complicated process in our brains.  (Or perhaps that sense is not well evolved).  And to the contrary, if we experience only a few, easy illusions associated with a sense then the processing of that sense in the brain is minimal.  (Or perhaps that sense is well evolved).  The idea is that the perception of some senses is more complicated and difficult than the perception of other senses.  ---  6/1/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Perception.  What is the perceptual equivalent of "white noise" in all the other senses?  Static?  ---  6/3/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Senses and Zen.  (1) The completely concrete can be as beautiful, informative and compelling as the completely abstract.  So say the artists.  (2) The specific details of concrete, actual "this-ness" can be indescribably positive and joyous.  (3) Life can be beautiful.  Being able to see the beauty is even better.  ---  2/1/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Senses.  The five senses are sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.  Of the five senses it is the sense of sight and sound that are least finicky.  The senses of touch, taste and smell are most finicky of the five senses.  This is the case for two reasons: because smells are of specific things; and because smell is a close range sense.     (1) To elucidate this let us consider the sense of sight.  Humans tend not to find the sight of any particular color offensive in and of itself (unless socially conditioned to do so).  Nor do humans tend to find the sight of any particular shape offensive in and of itself.  At long distances almost all visible objects assume an abstract identity in regard to color and shape.  Only at close range, when colors and shapes are associated with specific things (ex. garbage or vermin) do we find the sight of things offensive.  That may be the key to the puzzle.  Smells are generally always of a specific thing.  There are no abstract, non-specific smells.     (2) Our sense of sight is voracious.  We want to see everything.  We are born voyeurs when it comes to the sense of sight.  The sense of hearing is also one we tend to use indiscriminantly.  We love to hear whatever we are able to hear, especially in the natural world from which we evolved.  However, the senses of touch, taste and smell are much more picky.  That is because the senses of touch, taste and smell are short-range senses that deal primarily with objects that are very close to our bodies and objects that we are about to ingest.  The senses of touch, taste and smell are very much concerned with discerning good smells from bad smells so that we can consume healthy foods and avoid foul smelling toxins.  I propose that we can group the senses into long-range (non-fussy, voyeuristic) senses like sight and hearing, and short-range (finicky, selective) senses like touch, taste and smell.  ---  11/26/2000

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Senses.  Who is to say whether a food tastes the same way to me as it does to you?  One answer is that if a consensus of people use the same adjectives to describe a food, then we can agree that our taste experience of that food are similar to each other.  Extrapolate: And if our senses of taste coincide, then so do our other senses.  Plus, it would not be evolutionarily advantageous for each of us to have a wildly different experience of sense input, because the resulting confusion would jeapordize the survival of the species.  Yet if we all had the exact same sense experience the resulting lack of flexibility would also jeapordize the survival of the species.  ---  9/12/1999

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Sensory deprivation experiments and prison isolation cells show how harmful sensory deprivation can be.  Sensory deprivation can cause people psychological harm.  (2) Counter argument: Not all forms of sensory deprivation are harmful.  Some forms of sensory deprivation are not harmful.  (A) What about sensory deprivation in the form of blindness and deafness?  The blind and deaf manage to survive and thrive.  The example of the blind and deaf shows that not all senses are necessary.  (B) The popularity of user-controlled sensory deprivation tanks show user-controlled sense deprivation (dark, quiet) can even be helpful.  ---  6/13/2004

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Sight and sound use waves (light waves and sound waves).  Taste and smell use molecules, which is a kind of touch.  Touch uses touch.  ---  12/28/2003

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Smell and taste.  (1) The taste and smell crowd.  Gastronomy people.  Beer, wine and liquor people.  Perfume people.  (2) The touch crowd.  Massage people.  ---  2/21/2000

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Smell and taste.  The human senses of smell and taste are connected because the mouth and nose are connected.  We can taste smells.  We can smell tastes.  ---  12/1/2001

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Smell and taste.  The senses of smell and taste are so closely related as to be almost inseparable.  (1) Can something smell good yet taste bad?  Perhaps only non-edible perfumes.  (2) Can something taste good yet smell bad?  ---  11/26/2000

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Smell.  Human pheromones.  Every year has its smell.  You may not be able to discern it consciously but you can smell it unconsciously.  And every year you feel differently about the smells of every other year, in various degrees of attraction and repulsion.  (Possible book title: "32 smells 28").  ---  9/28/2000

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Touch.  (1) People want to be touched.  People need to be touched.  That's why people are always hugging each other.  (2) People like touching things.  That's why there are so many "Hands off" signs.  (3) Sum up.  People like being touched and people like touching things.  Primarily with the hands but also with the rest of body.  ---  6/14/2004

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Touch.  Skin has the following traits: (1) Skin is an all-over sense.  Like being able to see in front of you and behind you at the same time.  (2) Skin can sense pressures like light touch and heavy touch.  (3) Skin can sense textures like smoothness and roughness.  (4) Skin can sense heat and cold temperatures.  And skin can sense humidity too.  So apparently skin is a weather sense.  ---  6/3/2002

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Vision.  (1) How do we perceive color?  (2) How do we perceive shape?  (3) How do the visual arts trick our eye into seeing two dimensional paintings as three dimensional landscapes.  By use of perspective and shadow?  (4) How do we perceive motion?  (5) How do the movies trick our eyes into seeing motion pictures?  ---  6/6/1999

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Vision.  All visual perception is color and shape.  Lines are just long, thin shapes.  Texture is just small patterned shapes that make us think that a surface would feel a certain way.  ---  6/6/1999

Psychology, sense and perception.  ---  Vision.  Our eyes move in their sockets so easily and so unconsciously that we forget that our other senses do not have it so easy.  If our eyes were fixed in position in our heads like our ears are then we would have a different time of it.  ---  6/3/2002

Main page

Paul Nervy Notes. Copyright 1988-2007 by Paul Nervy.