Terms and Definitions

Fizzo is clueless! He needs FAQ that will help him during your presentation. The FAQs will help him make sense of the ideas in the presentation, and should be based on the essential terms. The following definitions will get you started, add to the list as you go!

Wine tasters must use both the sense of smell and the sense of taste to judge wines properly.

Words that will affect almost every area of sensation and perception

There are many terms that are needed to know before you launch yourself into understanding each area of the senses. Here is a glossary of words and their definitions to help you along.


Attention: As we are always surrounded by stimuli, it is impossible to react to all of them at any one time. Our senses would be so overwhelmed we could not process very much. Therefore, we are able to become selective. Attention is the process of limiting your attention to a selected number of stimuli. Sometimes this is done quite consciously. Others, more automatic. Often this will depend on the condition of the individual at any one time. For example, if someone is nauseous, the stimuli of the smell of fresh baked cookies is very different to someone who is hungry.

Gestalt: This is a German word meaning form or whole. Gestalt psychologists believed that the whole may be different that the sum of its parts. The brain is not simply a placid organ that does the same thing day in and day out. It is filtering our sensations and inferring perceptions in ways to help us make sense of our environment. The following are some Gestalt organizational principles used in perceiving the world about us.
Similarity-- Figures that are similar to each other seemed to be grouped together. Think of Morse Code, where there is longer pause in between letters to help distinguish between them.
Proximity--Figures that are nearby tend to be grouped together.
Continuity--We tend to perceive smooth, continuous patterns rather than jumpy, disconnected ones.

Closure--If a figure has gaps, we tend to complete it, filling in the gaps with our minds to create a whole.

There are more Gestalt principles, but these are the primary ones.

Absolute threshold--This is the minimum amount of stimulus a subject can detect. It is the point where a person can detect a stimulus 50% of the time. For example, to test your threshold for light, you might be shown a candle at different distances. The place where you can see it half of the time is your absolute threshold. Absolute threshold diminishes with age.
Difference threshold--The minimum difference a person can detect between any two stimulus 50% of the time is the difference threshold, or the just noticeable difference. This will change with the magnitude of the stimulus. For example, if you are holding a two once weight in your hand, you will notice if another two once weight is added. However, if you are holding 10 pounds, it is unlikely that you would be able to notice the difference that two ounces would make. Where on this page do you see an example of someone using a difference threshold? At the top of the page is a photo of a wine taster who must detect miniscule differences in taste.
Pain--Pain is the body's way of telling you that something is wrong, very wrong. It will draw your attention to a too bright light, too loud noise, a burn, or a broken bone .There are a few people who are born without the ability to feel pain and may have severe injuries without ever knowing it. Pain sensations are different for everyone. The threshold one person has for pain may be much lower, meaning that they cannot take much pain at all. In others it is very high. Athletes during competition do not report the feeling of great pain when they have an injury as the body produces substances to block pain when highly stimulated. Yet, a paper cut can be very painful. So can biting your lip.
Sensory interactions--This is the principle that one sense can influence another. Smell influences taste. Our vision can affect what we hear. Have you ever said, I need to see you to hear you better?
Sensory restrictions--The loss of the use of one or more of the senses is called sensory restriction. Individuals with blindness, deafness, loss of a limb or paralysis in the limb, and less known, the loss of sense of taste and smell all have a type of sensory restriction. Individuals with disabilities have sensory restrictions.
Sensory adaptations--Our diminished sensitivity to an unchanged stimulus is sensory adaptation. Some examples include jumping into a pool of very cold water, only to find it feels refreshing moments later. Another would be going to a movie theater and finding the sound very loud. Half way through the movie you find yourself straining to hear some of the words. Sometimes we taste something that initially seems very spicy, only to adapt to it and enjoy the flavor.

Demonstrate your Understanding

Now it is time to construct your FAQ, use at least ten of the tems from your readings and this page. The FAQ should be based on the terms and definitions. An example question might be "How do sensory restrictions affect visitors to the park?" Fizzo doesn't want to read a long explanation, just enough to help him understand.

To make sure that Fizzo sees a clear connection between the terms and a theme park, create 5 examples of different terms that you might discover in a theme park ride. For example: "To accommodate people who have sensory restrictions, entrances for wheelchairs that are easy to get to are added. This is a great idea to include in my theme park ride. I would improve upon it by...(add more here).

A good tool to use for a FAQ is a word processor. One idea might be to use a 'landscape' orientation and text boxes to organize the text on the pages. For additional information on using Microsoft Word, see the help files. Submit the FAQ and the 5 examples to your mentor as an attachment.