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Sensation & Perception

Fifth Edition

Jeremy M. Wolfe, Keith R. Kluender, Dennis M. Levi, Linda M. Bartoshuk, Rachel S. Herz, Roberta L. Klatzky, and Daniel M. Merfeld

Publication Date - November 2017

ISBN: 9781605356419

624 pages

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $174.95


Sensation & Perception, Fifth Edition introduces students to their own senses, emphasizing human sensory and perceptual experience and the basic neuroscientific underpinnings of that experience. The authors, specialists in their respective domains, strive to spread their enthusiasm for fundamental questions about the human senses and the impact that answers to those questions can have on medical and societal issues.

New to this Edition

  • "Scientists at Work" boxes look at important discoveries and explain the process of experimentation and hypothesis testing.
  • Appearing at the beginning of each chapter, "Questions to Contemplate" set the stage for what students should be able to answer after reading the chapter.


  • Current research findings are integrated as the basics are presented
  • The book provides coverage that others don't: full chapters on Taste, Smell, Touch, and the Vestibular System
  • An energetic, fun, and accessible writing style is complemented by unbeatable full-color figures and graphics
  • "Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life" boxes discuss perceptual impairments or real-world applications related to the chapter topic
  • Bold-faced key terms are defined in a Marginal Glossary
  • In-text links reference the Companion Website, full of demos, simulations, and activities for students

About the Author(s)

Jeremy M. Wolfe is Professor of Ophthalmology & Radiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Wolfe was trained as a vision researcher/experimental psychologist and remains one today. His early work includes papers on binocular vision, adaptation, and accommodation. The bulk of his recent work has dealt with visual search and visual attention in the lab and in real world settings such as airport security and cancer screening. He taught Introductory Psychology for over twenty-five years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he won the Baker Memorial Prize for undergraduate teaching in 1989. He directs the Visual Attention Lab and the Center for Advanced Medical Imaging of Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Keith R. Kluender is Professor and Head of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. His research encompasses: how people hear complex sounds such as speech; how experience shapes the way we hear; how what we hear guides our actions and communication; clinical problems of hearing impairment or language delay; and practical concerns about computer speech recognition and hearing aid design. Dr. Kluender is deeply committed to teaching, and has taught a wide array of courses--philosophical, psychological, and physiological.

Dennis M. Levi has taught at the University of California, Berkeley since 2001. He is Professor in the School of Optometry and Professor at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. In the lab, Dr. Levi and colleagues use psychophysics, computational modeling, and brain imaging (fMRI) to study the neural mechanisms of normal pattern vision in humans, and to learn how they are degraded by abnormal visual experience (amblyopia).

Linda M. Bartoshuk is Bushnell Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida. Her research on taste has opened up broad new avenues for further study, establishing the impact of both genetic and pathological variation in taste on food preferences, diet, and health. She discovered that taste normally inhibits other oral sensations such that damage to taste leads to unexpected consequences like weight gain and intensified oral pain. Most recently, working with colleagues in Horticulture, her group found that a considerable amount of the sweetness in fruit is actually produced by interactions between taste and olfaction in the brain. This may lead to a new way to reduce sugar in foods and beverages.

Rachel S. Herz is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University and Part-time Faculty in the Psychology Department at Boston College. Her research focuses on a number of facets of olfactory cognition and perception and on emotion, memory, and motivated behavior. Her current research also focuses on the sensory and psychological mechanisms underlying food perception and eating behavior. Using an experimental approach grounded in evolutionary theory and incorporating both cognitive behavioral and neuropsychological techniques, Dr. Herz's overarching aim is to understand how biological mechanisms and cognitive processes interact to influence human perception and behavior.

Roberta L. Klatzky is the Charles J. Queenan Jr. Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, where she also holds faculty appointments in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. She has done extensive research on haptic and visual object recognition, space perception and spatial thinking, and motor performance. Her work has application to haptic interfaces, navigation aids for the blind, image-guided surgery, teleoperation, and virtual environments.

Daniel M. Merfeld is Professor of Otolaryngology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and the Senior Vestibular Scientist at the Naval Medical Research Unit in Dayton. Much of his research career has been spent studying how the brain combines information from multiple sources, with a specific focus on how the brain processes ambiguous sensory information from the vestibular system in the presence of noise. Translational work includes research developing new methods to help diagnose patients experiencing vestibular symptoms and research developing vestibular implants for patients who have severe problems with their vestibular labyrinth.

Previous Publication Date(s)

October 2014
October 2011
October 2008

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Introduction
    Welcome to Our World
    Sensation and Perception
    Thresholds and the Dawn of Psychophysics
    Psychophysical Methods
    Scaling Methods
    Signal Detection Theory
    Fourier Analysis
    Sensory Neuroscience and the Biology of Perception
    Neuronal Connections
    Neural Firing: The Action Potential
    Development over the Life Span

    Chapter 2. The First Steps in Vision: From Light to Neural Signals
    A Little Light Physics
    Eyes That Capture Light
    Focusing Light onto the Retina
    The Retina
    What the Doctor Saw
    Retinal Geography and Function
    Dark and Light Adaptation
    Pupil Size
    Photopigment Regeneration
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: When Good Retina Goes Bad
    The Duplex Retina
    Neural Circuitry
    Retinal Information Processing
    Light Transduction by Rod and Cone Photoreceptors
    Lateral Inhibition through Horizontal and Amacrine Cells
    Convergence and Divergence of Information via Bipolar Cells
    Communicating to the Brain via Ganglion Cells
    Box: Scientists at Work: Is One Photon Enough to See?

    Chapter 3. Spatial Vision: From Spots to Stripes
    Visual Acuity: Oh Say, Can You See?
    A Visit to the Eye Doctor
    More Types of Visual Acuity
    Acuity for Low-Contrast Stripes
    Why Sine Wave Gratings?
    Retinal Ganglion Cells and Stripes
    The Lateral Geniculate Nucleus
    The Striate Cortex

    The Topography of the Human Cortex
    Some Perceptual Consequences of Cortical Magnification
    Receptive Fields in Striate Cortex
    Orientation Selectivity
    Other Receptive-Field Properties
    Simple and Complex Cells
    Further Complications
    Columns and Hypercolumns
    Selective Adaptation: The Psychologist's Electrode
    The Site of Selective Adaptation Effects
    Spatial Frequency-Tuned Pattern Analyzers in Human Vision
    The Development of Vision
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: The Girl Who Almost Couldn''t See Stripes
    Development of the Contrast Sensitivity Function
    Box: Scientists at Work: Does the Duck''s Left Eye Know What the Right Eye Saw?

    Chapter 4. Perceiving and Recognizing Objects
    From Simple Lines and Edges to Properties of Objects
    Box: Scientists at Work: Rüdiger von der Heydt, Border Ownership, and Transparency
    What and Where Pathways
    The Problems of Perceiving and Recognizing Objects

    Mid-level Vision
    Finding Edges
    Texture Segmentation and Grouping
    Figure and Ground
    Dealing with Occlusion
    Parts and Wholes
    Summarizing Mid-level Vision
    From Metaphor to Formal Model
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Material Perception: The Everyday Problem of Knowing What It Is Made Of
    Object Recognition
    Multiple Recognition Committees?
    Faces: An Illustrative Special Case

    Chapter 5. The Perception of Color
    Basic Principles of Color Perception
    Three Steps to Color Perception
    Step 1: Color Detection
    Step 2: Color Discrimination
    The Principle of Univariance
    The Trichromatic Solution
    The History of Trichromatic Theory
    A Brief Digression into Lights, Filters, and Finger Paints
    From Retina to Brain: Repackaging the Information
    Cone-Opponent Cells in the Retina and LGN
    A Different Ganglion Cell Helps to Keep Track of Day and Night
    Step 3: Color Appearance
    Three Numbers, Many Colors
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Picking Colors
    The Limits of the Rainbow
    Opponent Colors
    Color in the Visual Cortex
    Individual Differences in Color Perception
    Language and Color
    Genetic Differences in Color Vision
    From the Color of Lights to a World of Color
    Adaptation and Afterimages
    Color Constancy
    The Problem with the Illuminant
    Physical Constraints Make Constancy Possible
    What Is Color Vision Good For?
    Box: Scientists at Work: Filtering Colors

    Chapter 6. Space Perception and Binocular Vision
    Monocular Cues to Three-Dimensional Space
    Pictorial Depth Cues
    Size and Position Cues
    Aerial Perspective
    Linear Perspective
    Seeing Depth in Pictures
    Triangulation Cues to Three-Dimensional Space
    Motion Cues
    Accommodation and Convergence
    Binocular Vision and Stereopsis
    Stereoscopes and Stereograms
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Recovering Stereo Vision
    Random Dot Stereograms
    Using Stereopsis
    Stereoscopic Correspondence
    The Physiological Basis of Stereopsis and Depth Perception
    Combining Depth Cues
    The Bayesian Approach Revisited
    Illusions and the Construction of Space
    Binocular Rivalry and Suppression
    Development of Binocular Vision and Stereopsis
    Abnormal Visual Experience Can Disrupt Binocular Vision
    Box: Scientists at Work: Stereopsis in a Hunting Insect

    Chapter 7. Attention and Scene Perception
    Selection in Space
    The "Spotlight" of Attention
    Visual Search
    Feature Searches Are Efficient
    Many Searches Are Inefficient
    In Real-World Searches, Basic Features Guide Visual Search
    In Real-World Searches, Properties of Scenes Guide Visual Search
    The Binding Problem in Visual Search
    Attending in Time: RSVP and the Attentional Blink
    The Physiological Basis of Attention
    Attention Could Enhance Neural Activity
    Attention Could Enhance the Processing of a Specific Type of Stimulus
    Attention and Single Cells
    Attention May Change the Way Neurons Talk to Each Other
    Disorders of Visual Attention
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Selective Attention and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    Perceiving and Understanding Scenes
    Two Pathways to Scene Perception
    The Nonselective Pathway Computes Ensemble Statistics
    The Nonselective Pathway Computes Scene Gist and Layout--Very Quickly
    Box: Scientists at Work: Do Ensembles Make Gists?
    Memory for Objects and Scenes Is Amazingly Good
    But, Memory for Objects and Scenes Can Be Amazingly Bad: Change Blindness
    What Do We Actually See?

    Chapter 8. Visual Motion Perception
    Motion Aftereffects
    Computation of Visual Motion
    Apparent Motion
    The Correspondence Problem--Viewing through an Aperture
    Detection of Global Motion in Area MT
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: The Man Who Couldn't See Motion
    Second-Order Motion
    Motion Induced Blindness (MIB)
    Using Motion Information
    Going with the Flow: Using Motion Information to Navigate
    Avoiding Imminent Collision: The Tao of Tau
    Something in the Way You Move: Using Motion Information to Identify Objects
    Eye Movements
    Physiology and Types of Eye Movements
    Eye Movements and Reading
    Saccadic Suppression and the Comparator
    Updating the Neural Mechanisms for Eye Movement Compensation
    Development of Motion Perception
    Box: Scientists at Work: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

    Chapter 9. Hearing: Physiology and Psychoacoustics
    The Function of Hearing
    What Is Sound?
    Basic Qualities of Sound Waves: Frequency and Amplitude
    Sine Waves and Complex Sounds
    Basic Structure of the Mammalian Auditory System
    Outer Ear
    Middle Ear
    Inner Ear
    The Auditory Nerve
    Auditory Brain Structures
    Basic Operating Characteristics of the Auditory System
    Intensity and Loudness
    Box: Scientists at Work: Why Don''t Manatees Get Out of the Way When a Boat Is Coming?
    Frequency and Pitch
    Hearing Loss
    Treating Hearing Loss
    Using versus Detecting Sound
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Electronic Ears

    Chapter 10. Hearing in the Environment
    Sound Localization
    Interaural Time Difference
    Interaural Level Difference
    Cones of Confusion
    Pinnae and Head Cues
    Box: Scientists at Work: Vulcan Ears
    Auditory Distance Perception
    Spatial Hearing When Blind
    Complex Sounds
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Auditory "Color" Constancy
    Attack and Decay
    Auditory Scene Analysis
    Spatial, Spectral, and Temporal Segregation
    Grouping by Timbre
    Grouping by Onset
    When Sounds Become Familiar
    Continuity and Restoration Effects
    Restoration of Complex Sounds
    Auditory Attention

    Chapter 11. Music and Speech Perception
    Musical Notes
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Music and Emotion
    Making Music
    Speech Production
    Speech Perception
    Box: Scientists at Work: Tickling the Cochlea
    Learning to Listen
    Speech in the Brain

    Chapter 12. Vestibular Sensation
    Vestibular Contributions
    Evolutionary Development and Vestibular Sensation
    Modalities and Qualities of Spatial Orientation
    Sensing Angular Motion, Linear Motion, and Tilt
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: The Vestibular System, Virtual Reality, and Motion Sickness
    Basic Qualities of Spatial Orientation: Amplitude and Direction
    The Vestibular Periphery
    Hair Cells: Mechanical Transducers
    Semicircular Canals
    Otolith Organs
    Spatial Orientation Perception
    Rotation Perception
    Translation Perception
    Tilt Perception
    Sensory Integration
    Visual-Vestibular Integration
    Active Sensing
    Reflexive Vestibular Responses
    Vestibulo-Ocular Responses
    Vestibulo-Autonomic Responses
    Vestibulo-Spinal Responses
    Spatial Orientation Cortex
    Vestibular Thalamocortical Pathways
    Cortical Influences
    When the Vestibular System Goes Bad
    Falls and Vestibular Function
    Mal de Debarquement Syndrome
    Ménière's Syndrome
    Box: Scientists at Work: Vestibular Aging
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Amusement Park Rides--Vestibular Physics Is Fun

    Chapter 13. Touch
    Touch Physiology
    Touch Receptors
    From Skin to Brain
    Box: Scientists at Work: Tickling Rats
    Tactile Sensitivity and Acuity
    How Sensitive Are We to Mechanical Pressure?
    How Finely Can We Resolve Spatial Details?
    How Finely Can We Resolve Temporal Details?
    Do People Differ in Tactile Sensitivity?
    Haptic Perception
    Perception for Action
    Action for Perception
    The What System of Touch: Perceiving Objects and Their Properties
    The Where System of Touch: Locating Objects
    Tactile Spatial Attention
    Social Touch
    Interactions between Touch and Other Modalities
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Haptic Simulation for Surgical Training

    Chapter 14. Olfaction
    Olfactory Physiology
    Odors and Odorants
    The Human Olfactory Apparatus
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Anosmia
    Neurophysiology of Olfaction
    The Genetic Basis of Olfactory Receptors
    The Feel of Scent
    From Chemicals to Smells
    Theories of Olfactory Perception
    The Importance of Patterns
    Is Odor Perception Synthetic or Analytical?
    The Power of Sniffing
    Odor Imagery
    Olfactory Psychophysics, Identification, and Adaptation
    Detection, Discrimination, and Recognition
    Psychophysical Methods for Detection and Discrimination
    Individual Differences
    Box: Scientists at Work: A New Test to Diagnose Parkinson's Disease
    Cognitive Habituation
    Olfactory Hedonics
    Familiarity and Intensity
    Nature or Nurture?
    An Evolutionary Argument
    Associative Learning and Emotion: Neuroanatomical and Evolutionary Considerations
    The Vomeronasal Organ, Human Pheromones, and Chemosignals
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Odor-Evoked Memory and the Truth behind Aromatherapy

    Chapter 15. Taste
    Taste versus Flavor
    Localizing Flavor Sensations
    Box: Sensation & Perception in Everyday Life: Volatile-Enhanced Taste: A New Way to Safely Alter Flavors
    Anatomy and Physiology of the Gustatory System
    Taste Myth: The Tongue Map
    Taste Buds and Taste Receptor Cells
    Extraoral Locations for Taste Receptors
    Taste Processing in the Central Nervous System
    The Four Basic Tastes?
    Are There More Than Four Basic Tastes? Does It Matter?
    Genetic Variation in Bitter
    Health Consequences of Variation in Taste Sensations
    How Do Taste and Flavor Contribute to the Regulation of Nutrients?
    Box: Scientists at Work: The Role of Food Preferences in Food Choices
    Is All Olfactory Affect Learned?
    The Nature of Taste Qualities
    Taste Adaptation and Cross-Adaptation
    Pleasure and Retronasal versus Orthonasal Olfaction
    The Pleasure of the Burn of Chili Peppers

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