AP psych Unit 4

studied byStudied by 61 People



Tags & Description


AP Psychology


Studying Progress

New cards
Still learning
Almost Done
81 Terms


the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system receive and represent stimulus energies from our environment


the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events

Bottom-up processing

analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain’s integration of sensory information

Top-down processing

information processing guided by higher-level mental processes (as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectations)

Selective Attention

the focusing of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus

Inattentional blindness

failing to see visible objects when our attention is directed elsewhere

Change blindness

failing to notice changes in the environment


conversion of one form of energy into another


the study of relationships between the physical characteristics of stimuli, such as their intensity, and our psychological experience of them

Absolute threshold

the minimum stimulation necessary to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time

Signal detection theory

a theory predicting how and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus (signal) amid background stimulation (noise)


below one’s absolute threshold for conscious awareness


the activation, often unconsciously, of certain associations, thus predisposing one’s perception, memory, or response

Difference threshold

the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50 percent of the time - just noticeable difference (jnd)

Weber’s Law

the principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage (rather than a constant amount)

Sensory Adaptation

diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation

Perceptual set

a mental disposition to perceive one thing and not another

Extrasensory Perception (ESP)

the controversial claim that perception can occur apart from sensory input


the study of paranormal phenomena, including ESP and psychokinesis


the distance from the peak of one light or sound wave to the peak of the next


the amount of energy in a light or sound wave, which we perceive as brightness or loudness, as determined by the wave’s amplitude


the dimension of color that is determined by the wavelength of light


outer covering of the eye


adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light enters


ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye around the pupil and controls the size of the pupil opening


the transparent structure behind the pupil that changes shape to help focus images on the retina


the light-sensitive inner surface of the eye, containing the receptor rods and cones plus layers of neurons that begin the processing of visual information


process by which the eye’s lens changes shape to focus near or far objects in the retina


retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray; Necessary for peripheral and twilight vision, when cones don’t respond


retinal receptor cells that are concentrated near the center of the retina; Function in daylight/well-lit conditions; Detect fine detail and give rise to color sensations

Optic nerve

the nerve that carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain

Blind spot

the point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye, creating a “blind” spot because no receptor cells are located there


the central focal point in the retina, around which the eye’s cones cluster

Feature detectors

nerve cells in the brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement

Parallel processing

the processing of many aspects of a problem simultaneously

Young-Helmholtz trichromatic (three color) theory

the theory that the retina contains three different color receptors (red, green, blue) which, when stimulated in combination can produce the perception of any color

Opponent-process theory

the theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision (some cells are stimulated by green and inhibited by red; others are stimulated by red and inhibited by green)


an organized whole


the organization of the visual field into objects (the figures) that stand out from their surroundings (the ground)


the perceptual tendency to organize stimuli into coherent groups; Proximity, Continuity, and Closure

Depth perception

the ability to see objects in three dimensions although the images that strike the retina are two-dimensional (allows us to judge distance)


a laboratory device for testing depth perception in infants and young animals

Retinal disparity

a binocular cue for perceiving depth, by comparing images from the retinas in the two eyes, the brain computes distance (the greater the disparity between the two images, the closer the object)

Binocular cues

depth cues (ex. retinal disparity) that depend on the use of two eyes

Monocular cues (definition)

depth cues (ex. interposition, linear perspective) available to either eye alone

Monocular cues (examples)

Relative height, Relative size, Interposition, Linear perspective, Relative motion, and Light and shadow

Phi phenomenon

an illusion of movement created when two or more adjacent lights blink on and off in quick succession

Perceptual Constancy

perceiving objects as unchanging (having consistent shapes, size, lightness, and color) even as illumination and retinal images change

Color constancy

perceiving familiar objects as having consistent color, even if changing illumination alters the wavelengths reflected by the object