Sensing the environment and perceiving the world

When you think about your senses, you will likely note that we have five senses: touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste.

As you will discover shortly, whilst this is true, it is also an oversimplification of the exquisite sensory systems our bodies possess. Even the simple names given to the senses do not do justice to the experiences they provide us with and the complexity that underpins our sensory processing.

In this section, you will learn about how the body senses the world around us. We will take each sensory system in turn and consider the sensory stimulus, how it is detected by the body, the pathways through the nervous system that the sensory information takes, and how it is processed within the brain to create a perception of the world.


Learning Objectives

By the end of this section you will be able to:

  • Identify and describe the sensory stimuli for the different sensory systems
  • Explain and compare how each sensory system detects sensory stimuli, converting the information into electrical signals for use within the nervous system
  • Describe the pathways sensory signals take from the sense organ to the brain, noting any key processing that occurs at different points in the pathway and relating this to our perception of the stimulus
  • Discuss the wider importance of our sensory systems as indicated by their functions beyond sensory perception and the impact of sensory impairment on an individual and their families.



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Introduction to Biological Psychology Copyright © 2023 by Catherine N. Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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