Sensation and Perception Experiments

The games being developed by Ralph Peterson at Fun Learning and Toy Company need to have many tactile elements in order to appeal to preschoolers. Ralph is having trouble distinguishing between sensation and perception. You devise these experiments to help him comprehend the differences.

Conduct these experiments and record your reactions:

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Rub your index fingers gently over a piece of very coarse sandpaper a few times, and rate its coarseness on a scale from 1 (very soft) to 7 (very coarse). After a minute or two, rub the same finger over the paper and again rate its coarseness. Did your perception of the coarseness change? How?

Distribute one cup with sugar water and one with fresh water. Take a sip of the sugar water and swish it around in your mouth for several seconds without swallowing it; gradually it should taste less sweet. After swallowing it (or spitting it back into the cup), taste from the cup containing fresh water. Did the taste of the fresh water surprise you? How?

Take about 15 index cards and a flashlight that is opaque on all sides (so that light shines only through the front) into a very dark room. After placing all 15 cards over the beam of light, slowly remove the cards one at a time until you can barely detect the light, and then count the number of cards that remain over the light. After a few minutes, the light should begin to look brighter. When this is the case, add a card and see if you can still see the light. Repeat this process of gradually adding cards over a 15-minute period. Were you able to detect an increasingly dim light the longer you spent in the dark?

Fill 3 medium-sized bowls with (a) very hot (but not painfully so) tap water, (b) very cold tap water, and (c) a mixture of the very hot and very cold water. Arrange them so that your right hand is in front of the cold water, your left hand is in front of the hot water, and the lukewarm water is in the middle. Submerse your hands into the water (right into cold, left into hot) for about 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, quickly transfer both hands to the lukewarm (middle) bowl. What did you sense?

In all four experiments, you will experience adaptation. What is it? Describe the systems that receive sensory information in these experiments. Also, summarize your responses to the experiments.

Solution Preview
Please see response attached, which is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.


1. Describe the systems that receive sensory information in these experiments. Also, summarize your responses to the experiments. Write a 1-2 page report addressing the items above.

Let’s go through three of the four experiments (1.2.and 4), using hypothetical results (since, you did not include your results). However, you will need to conduct the experiments and use your results for the final copy.

This is quite straightforward. The process is explained for each experiment and all you really need to do is follow the directions in each scenario, and record the results. You are expected to conduct the experiment (you as the participant), and report the results in terms of adaptation.

Your tentative outline might look something to the effect…

I. Introduction (about ¼ – ½ page, explain adaptation as discussed in the text, not as a general dictionary definition, introducing topic and purpose statement)

E.g. provide a definition of adaptation, which generally means that your brain adapts to a stimuli over repeated exposure, which changes the sensation perception of the stimuli. (Check the definition in your text or class material and use that definition; however, in the response below I use a fairly common definition, but please check it against your text definition, and use the text definition if they differ).

II. Three experiments (using illustrative examples below).

§ Experiment 1 (e.g. about ¼ to ½ page: explain the experiment, the results, explain how adaptation is evident in each of your experimental results, provide a comprehensively describe the sensory systems (e.g., touch perception, taste perception, and so on) involved in these experiments, from the receptors all the way into and including the brain)).
§ Experiment 2 (e.g. about ¼ to ½ page; repeat the same process as for Experiment 1, as described above)
§ Experiment 3 (e.g. about ¼ to ½ page; repeat the same process as for Experiment 1, as described above)
§ Experiment 4 (e.g. about ¼ to ½ page; repeat the same process as for Experiment 1, as described above)

III. Discussion and Conclusion (tie up main points e.g., brief explanation about adaptation and its impact on sensory perception (touch, etc.).

The assignment expectations are as follows:

1. Fully describe the process and results of each experiment.

This is quite straightforward. The process is explained for each experiment in the assignment, so it is just a matter of following the directions in each scenario, and then record the results. You are expected to conduct the experiment (you as the participant), and report the results and explain them in terms of adaptation.

Let’s look at the definition of adaptation first (followed by the three experiments), although you are expected to use the definition in your text.

2. What is adaptation? Explain adaptation as discussed in the text, not as a general dictionary definition.

Sensory Adaptation: Generally, speaking we get used to things. This goes for lots of things in life including smells, sounds, sights, games, people, and situations. Our brain has a way of adapting to the stimulus and, after a while, we seem to get used to everything. One reason we get used to everything is because of sensory adaptation, which is reduced sensitivity to stimulation that results from repeated presentations of that stimulation.

For example, let’s assume that you had your car in for service and the dealer gave you a rental to use while the car was being serviced. As soon as you got into the car, you were overwhelmed by the smell of smoke (even though you asked for a non-smoking car). It stunk! But after driving the car for 30 minutes or so, you didn’t really notice the smell. You got used to it because you were immersed in it. You experienced sensory (smell) adaptation.

Explanations for sensory adaptation vary widely: fatigue within sensory channels, “normalization” of responses, reconciliation of discrepant estimators, maximization of sensitivity, and maximization of internal signal …

Solution Summary
For each experiment, this solution describes the systems that receive sensory information.To continue with the answer check on

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