Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sensation and Perception

Sensation is the reception of stimuli and feeling from the world around an organism and perception is the translation of sensation and how the brain reads it.  Sensation is the use of sensory organs.  Perception is the brain's interpretation of signals from sensory organs.  Students can easily confuse this, because they are very similar.  To help confused students I would say that sensation happens before perception, and perception is how sensation is transcribed into thought.  I will use a car crashing into a tree as an example.  A person who does need see the car crash hears the screeching brakes and the bang.  This is sensation.  Their hears received sound and sent the message to the brain.  However, they perceive the car crashing.  Their brain deciphered the sensation and used knowledge to tell the person that a car crashed.  There could have been a radio making the sounds and the perception was false.  That is another way to tell the difference.  Although sensation can also represent a falsity if sensory organs are not functioning correctly.  They use top-down processing to assume that the driver accidentally hit the tree and that something went wrong.  They use bottom-up processing to see that the car's front end is smashed and the car is smoking after they look.


  1. Alexander,
    Your differentiation of sensation and peception was very helpful. Thinking of them as one before the other eases the confusion that is emitted from them.

  2. Alex,

    I too considered sensation as the stimulus for perception. In a cause and effect scenario, sensation causes perception. I find your example of crashing a car to be helpful, as it clearly illustrates this difference.

  3. Alexander,
    Your description in the correlation of sensation followed by perception seems classical. I found your example helpful and relatable. The use of a car crash from different angles or different people makes the bottom-up and top-down processing easier to understand and remember.