In the field of psychology, sensation and perception are intimately related concepts. They are closely linked in the sense that they play complimentary but different roles in how human beings interpret their world. Sensation is the process of experiencing a given stimulus through touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. Perception, meanwhile, is how the raw information from this stimulus is interpreted. Sensation and perception are important for human beings to be able to make sense of everything that going on in their environment (AllPsych Online, 2004).
Sensation Humans familiarize themselves with their environment through various senses, particularly the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. So important is sensation to human adaptation that more than 50% of the functions of the cerebral cortex are devoted to visual functions. A huge part of the remainder, meanwhile, is devoted to audition and speech. At present, sight and hearing are the most studied among the human senses (Psychology, 2002).
The sense of sight is considered as the most important among all human senses, as it is capable of creating vivid and detailed representations of the world. From hazy patches of light that is projected by the lens onto the retina, a three-dimensional model of the world is generated. This model is so sophisticated that it can identify people and objects of different shapes, sizes and colors, as well as those located at a certain location or in motion. Behavioral scientists that are studying sensation and perception have, so far, discovered the connection between sight and perception (Psychology, 2002).
In order to make out what is present in a scene, the human brain makes reasonably informed guesses by matching the information provided by the eyes with knowledge, beliefs and expectations. It is believed that the brain also makes a huge amount of guesswork just to be able to come up with human inferences regarding the location, movement, size, color and texture of objects. Since almost all aspects of human life are dominated by routine and familiarity, the brain almost always comes up with correct guesses.
As perception is heavily dependent on how humans view their external environment, behavioral scientists must not only link perception with sensation, but also with learning, memory, judgment and problem solving (Psychology, 2002). Perception Without perception, life would be reduced to a meaningless shuffle of colors, shapes and sounds. A person who does not have any perceptual ability will not survive for long – he or she will not be able to recognize faces, understand language or avoid threats.
The survival of many animal species has often been attributed to the evolution of their sensory and perceptual systems (MSN Encarta, 2008). Gestalt Laws of Grouping The Gestalt Laws of Grouping is one of the most well-known theories of perception. It was formulated by the founders of Gestalt psychology, German researchers Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler. They believed that people organized parts of a visual stimulus into groups or whole objects according to certain principles. They identified these laws as proximity, similarity, continuity, closure and common fate.
These laws, when put together, form a sixth law – simplicity (MSN Encarta, 2008). Conclusion Sensation and perception are very important for hum survival. It is just a matter of common logic to assume that an individual cannot live in this world if he or she cannot experience stimuli and or interpret them. Furthermore, the conventional ideas of “safety” and “normalcy” cannot exist without sensation and perception. Individuals will end up having a “trial and error” way of life, constantly stumbling into potential sources of harm and danger.