NCERT Solutions for Class 11th: Ch 5 Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes Psychology

NCERT Solutions for Class 11th: Ch 5 Sensory, Attentional and Perceptual Processes Psychology 

Page No: 106

Review Questions

1. Explain the functional limitations of sense organs.

Answer

Different sense organs deal with different forms of stimuli and serve different purposes. Each sense organ is highly specialised for dealing with a particular kind of information. For example, our eyes cannot see things which are very dim or very bright. Similarly our ears cannot hear very faint or very loud sounds. The same is true for other sense organs also. As human beings, we function within a limited range of stimulation. For being noticed by a sensory receptor, a stimulus has to be of an optimal intensity or magnitude. In order to be noticed a stimulus has to carry a minimum value or weight. The minimum value of a stimulus required to activate a given sensory system is called absolute threshold or absolute limen (AL). It may be noted at this point that the AL is not a fixed point; instead it varies considerably across individuals and situations depending on the people’s organic conditions and their motivational states. Hence, we have to assess it on the basis of a number of trials. As it is not possible for us to notice all stimuli, it is also not possible to differentiate between all stimuli. In order to notice two stimuli as different from each other, there has to be some minimum difference between the value of those stimuli. The smallest difference in the value of two stimuli that is necessary to notice them as different is called difference threshold or difference limen (DL). Understanding of sensations is not possible without understanding the AL and DL of different type of stimuli (for example, visual, auditory), but that is not enough. Sensory processes do not depend only on the stimulus characteristics. Sense organs and the neural pathways connecting them to various brain centers also play a vital role in this process. A sense organ receives the stimulus and encodes it as an electrical impulse. For being noticed this electrical impulse must reach the higher brain centers. Any structural or functional defect or damage in the receptor organ, its neural pathway, or the concerned brain area may lead to a partial or complete loss of sensation.

2. What is meant by light and dark adaptation? How do they take place?

Answer

Light adaptation refers to the process of adjusting to bright light after exposure to dim light. This process takes nearly a minute or two. On the other hand, dark adaptation refers to the process of adjusting to a dimly illuminated environment after exposure to bright light. This may take half an hour or even longer depending on the previous level of exposure of the eye to light. According to the classical view, light and dark adaptations occur due to certain photochemical processes. The rods have a photo-sensitive chemical substance, called rhodopsin or visual purple. By the action of light the molecules of this chemical substance get bleached or broken down. Under such conditions the light adaptation takes place in the eyes. On the other hand, the dark adaptation is achieved by the removal of light, and thereby allowing for restorative processes to regenerate the pigment in the rods with the help of vitamin A. The regeneration of rhodopsin in rods is a time consuming process. That is why dark adaptation is a slower process than light adaptation. It has been found that people who suffer from vitamin A deficiency do not achieve dark adaptation at all, and find it really difficult to move in the dark. This condition is generally known as night blindness.

3. What is colour vision and what are the dimensions of colour?

Answer

A person‘s ability to distinguish different shades of colour is termed as colour vision. A person having normal colour vision can distinguish seven million different shades of colour.
Colour can be described in terms of three basic dimensions, called hue, saturation, and brightness. Hue is a property of chromatic colours. It refers to the name of the colour, e.g., red, blue, and green. Hue varies with wavelength, and each colour is identified with a specific wavelength. For example, blue has a wavelength of about 465 nm, and green of about 500 nm. Achromatic colours like black, white or grey are not characterised by hues. Saturation is a psychological attribute that refers to the relative amount of hue of a surface or object. The light of single wavelength (monochromatic) appears to be highly saturated. As we mix different wavelengths, the saturation decreases. The colour grey is completely unsaturated. Brightness is the perceived intensity of light. It varies across both chromatic and achromatic colours. White and black represent the top and bottom of the brightness dimension. White has the highest degree of brightness, whereas black has the lowest degree.

4. How does auditory sensation take place?

Answer

Auditory sensation begins when sound enters our ear and stimulates the chief organ of hearing.
Ear is the primary receptor of auditory stimuli. While its well-known function is hearing, it also helps us in maintaining our body balance. The structure of an ear is divided into three segments, called the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.
Pinna collects the sound vibrations and serves them to the tympanum through the auditory meatus. From the tympanic cavity the vibrations are transferred to the three ossicles, which increase their strength and transmit them to the inner ear. In the inner ear the cochlea receives the sound waves. Through vibrations the endolymph is set in motion which also vibrates the organ of corti. Finally, the impulses are sent to the auditory nerve, which emerges at the base of cochlea and reaches the auditory cortex where the impulse is interpreted.

5. Define attention. Explain its properties.

Answer

The process through which certain stimuli are selected from a group of others is generally referred to as attention
Selection: A large number of stimuli impinge upon our sense organs simultaneously, but we do not notice all of them at the same time. Only a selected few of them are noticed. For example, when you enter your classroom you encounter several things in it, such as doors, walls, windows, paintings on walls, tables, chairs, students, schoolbags, water bottles, and so on, but you selectively focus only on one or two of them at one time.
Alertness: Alertness refers to an individual’s readiness to deal with stimuli that appear before her/him. While participating in a race in your school, you might have seen the participants on the starting line in an alert state waiting for the whistle to blow in order to run.
Concentration: Concentration refers to focusing of awareness on certain specific objects while excluding others for the moment. For example, in the classroom, a student concentrates on the teacher’s lecture and ignores all sorts of noises coming from different corners of the school.
Search: In search an observer looks for some specified subset of objects among a set of objects. For example, when you go to fetch your younger sister and brother from the school, you just look for them among in numerable boys and girls. All these activities require some kind of effort on the part of people.

6. State the determinants of selective attention. How does selective attention differ from sustained attention?

Answer

Selective attention is concerned mainly with the selection of a limited number of stimuli or objects from a large number of stimuli.
Several factors influence selective attention. These generally relate to the characteristics of stimuli and the characteristics of individuals. They are generally classified as “external” and “internal” factors.
External factors are related to the features of stimuli. Other things held constant, the size, intensity, and motion of stimuli appear to be important determinants of attention. Large, bright, and moving stimuli easily catch our attention. Stimuli, which are novel and moderately complex, also easily get into our focus. Studies indicate that human photographs are more likely to be attended to than the photographs of inanimate objects. Similarly, rhythmic auditory stimuli are more readily attended to than verbal narrations. Sudden and intense stimuli have a wonderful capacity to draw attention.
Internal factors lie within the individual. These may be divided into two main categories, viz. motivational factors and cognitive factors. Motivational factors relate to our biological or social needs. When we are hungry, we notice even a faint smell of food. A student taking an examination is likely to focus on a teacher’s instructions more than other students. Cognitive factors include factors like interest, attitude, and preparatory set. Objects or events, which appear interesting, are readily attended by individuals. Similarly we pay quick attention to certain objects or events to which we are favourably disposed. Preparatory set generates a mental state to act in a certain way and readiness of the individual to respond to one kind of stimuli and not to others.

7. What is the main proposition of Gestalt psychologists with respect to perception of the visual field?

Answer

According to Gestalt psychologists, we perceive different stimuli not as discrete elements, but as an organised “whole” that carries a definite form. They believe that the form of an object lies in its whole, which is different from the sum of their parts. For example, a flower pot with a bunch of flowers is a whole. If the flowers are removed, the flower pot still remains a whole. It is the configuration of the flower pot that has changed. Flower pot with flowers is one configuration; without flowers it is another configuration.
The Gestalt psychologists also indicate that our cerebral processes are always oriented towards the perception of a good figure or pragnanz. That is the reason why we perceive everything in an organised form. The most primitive organisation takes place in the form of figure-ground segregation. When we look at a surface, certain aspects of the surface clearly stand out as separate entities, whereas others do not. For example, when we see words on a page, or a painting on a wall, or birds flying in the sky, the words, the painting, and the birds stand out from the background, and are perceived as figures, while the page, wall, and sky stay behind the figure and are perceived as background.

8. How does perception of space take place?

Answer

The visual field or surface in which things exist, move or can be placed is called space. The space in which we live is organised in three dimensions. We perceive not only the spatial attributes (e.g., size, shape, direction) of various objects, but also the distance between the objects found in this space. While the images of objects projected on to our retina are flat and two dimensional (left, right, up, down), we still perceive three dimensions in the space. Why does it happen so? It occurs due to our ability to transfer a two dimensional retinal vision into a three dimensional perception. The process of viewing the world in three dimensions is called distance or depth perception.

9. What are the monocular cues of depth perception? Explain the role of binocular cues in the perception of depth?

Answer

Monocular cues of depth perception are effective when the objects are viewed with only one eye. These cues are often used by artists to induce depth in two dimensional paintings. Hence, they are also known as pictorial cues.
Some important cues to depth perception in three dimensional space are provided by both the eyes. Three of them have particularly been found to be interesting.
Retinal or Binocular Disparity: Retinal disparity occurs because the two eyes have different locations in our head. They are separated from each other horizontally by a distance of about 6.5 centimetres. Because of this distance, the image formed on the retina of each eye of the same object is slightly different. This difference between the two images is called retinal disparity. The brain interprets a large retinal disparity to mean a close object and a small retinal disparity to mean a distant object, as the disparity is less for distant objects and more for the near objects.
Convergence: When we see a nearby object our eyes converge inward in order to bring the image on the fovea of each eye. A group of muscles send messages to the brain regarding the degree to which eyes are turning inward, and these messages are interpreted as cues to the perception of depth. The degree of convergence decreases as the object moves further away from the observer. You can experience convergence by holding a finger in front of your nose and slowly bringing it closer. The more your eyes turn inward or converge, the nearer the object appears in space.
Accommodation: Accommodation refers to a process by which we focus the image on the retina with the help of ciliary muscle. These muscles change the thickness of the lens of the eye. If the object gets away (more than 2 meters), the muscle is relaxed. As the object moves nearer, the muscle contracts and the thickness of the lens increases. The signal about the degree of contraction of the muscle is sent to the brain, which provides the cue for distance.

10. Why do illusions occur?

Answer

Perceptions are not always veridical. Sometime we fail to interpret the sensory information correctly. This results in a mismatch between the physical stimuli and its perception. These misperceptions resulting from misinterpretation of information received by our sensory organs are generally known as illusions. These are experienced more or less by all of us. They result from an external stimulus situation and generate the same kind of experience in each individual. That is why illusions are also called “primitive organisations”. Although illusions can be experienced by the stimulation of any of our senses, psychologists have studied them more commonly in the visual than in other sense modalities.

11. How do socio-cultural factors influence our perceptions?

Answer


Socio-cultural factors play an important role in our perceptions by generating differential familiarity with and salience of stimuli as well as certain habits of perceptual inference among people.
Muller-Lyer and Vertical-Horizontal illusion figures. Psychologists have used these figures with several groups of people living in Europe, Africa, and many other places. Segall, Campbell, and Herskovits carried out the most extensive study of illusion susceptibility by comparing samples from remote African villages and Western urban settings. It was found that African subjects showed greater susceptibility to horizontal-vertical illusion, whereas Western subjects showed greater susceptibility to Muller-Lyer illusion. Similar findings have been reported in other studies also. Living in dense forests the African subjects regularly experienced verticality (e.g., long trees) and developed a tendency to overestimate it. The Westerners, who lived in an environment characterised by right angles, developed a tendency to underestimate the length of lines characterised by enclosure (e.g., arrowhead). This conclusion has been confirmed in several studies. It suggests that the habits of perception are learnt differently in different cultural settings. In some studies people living in different cultural settings have been given pictures for identification of objects and interpretation of depth or other events represented in them. Hudson did a seminal study in Africa, and found that people, who had never seen pictures, had great difficulty in recognising objects depicted in them and in interpreting depth cues (e.g., superimposition). It was indicated that informal instruction in home and habitual exposure to pictures were necessary to sustain the skill of pictorial depth perception. Sinha and Mishra have carried out several studies on pictorial perception using a variety of pictures with people from diverse cultural settings, such as hunters and gatherers living in forests, agriculturists living in villages, and people employed and living in cities.  Their studies indicate that interpretation of pictures is strongly related to cultural experiences of people. While people in general can recognise familiar objects in pictures, those less exposed to pictures have difficulty in the interpretation of actions or events depicted in them.
Muller-Lyer illusion
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