17 curiosities about human perception
Several curious facts about human perception and the way we interpret reality.
Human perception is something that has been studied over many centuries, without finding an unequivocal answer to how humans interpret the world from the physical reality around us.
In this article we are going to see a few curiosities about human perceptionIn this article we will see a few curiosities about human perception, as well as some interesting facts about how it originates in our mind and also psychological currents that tried to give an explanation.
Curiosities about human perception
These are some curious facts about our way of perceiving things.
1. Perception is inside our mind
Throughout history, there have been discussions about whether human beings see the world the way it really is, and there have been several views on the matter. Today we know that reality and the way we perceive it do not coincide.
There is, outside our body, a material reality, but the way we receive it with our senses and process it, generating ideas and concepts associated with it, is something very variable from person to person.
That is, and although it may seem surprising, neither tastes, nor smells, nor tactile sensations, nor images or sounds exist by themselves.. They are the way in which we interpret things with different nature and physicochemical properties.
2. Perception has its limits
Related to the previous point, human beings cannot know reality completely through their senses..
An example of this is our sight, which has a spectrum of sensitivity and, at a cerebral level, we give each wavelength a certain color.
But this spectrum is limited, since human beings cannot perceive ultraviolet or infrared rays, making it impossible for us to capture this type of reality.
3. Difference between perception and sensation
Contrary to what many people believe, sensation and perception are not synonymous words. There are also people who twist their meanings, referring to sensation with the definition of perception and vice versa.
Sensation is basically the registration of a physical stimulus through the senses. stimulus through the senses. For example, that a ray of a certain wavelength reaches the ocular retina and is captured would fall under this concept.
On the other hand, perception is referred to when, at the cerebral level, an interpretation is given to it to this type of stimuli captured in the sensation.
In the previous case, it would be to transform the wavelength into a certain color. Color is something that does not really exist in nature.
4. Phases of perception
For perception to occur, four phases are necessary:
- DetectionDetection: a stimulus affects a sensory organ.
- TransductionThe external stimulus is transformed into a sensory impression.
- Processingsensory information arrives in the form of a nerve impulse to the brain, where it is coded and structured.
- Perception itselfThe encodings are recognized and shape the mind, attributing emotions to the stimulus originally received.
5. What did Gestalt think about perception?
According to the Gestalt psychological current, the human mind has the ability to perceive different aspects as a complete entity. That is, the combination of different elements gives more than the sum of those parts.
Sensation would be to receive those parts separately, without giving them any kind of value related to each other. On the other hand, with perception we would obtain the meaning of these elements as a whole..
In the following points we describe very briefly some laws attributed to Gestalt that try to explain human perception.
6. Principle of proximity
We tend to perceive things that are close to each other as a group automatically. automatically.
7. Principle of similarity
Elements that resemble each other are perceived as part of the same unit.
8. Figure-background principle
The same visual stimulus cannot be perceived as background and figure at the same time.. The background is everything that is not perceived of the figure.
9. Principle of continuity
If several objects are placed in a flow, oriented towards a specific place or point, they will be perceived as a whole.
10. Principle of closure
A figure is perceived more clearly the more closed is its contour.
11. Motion parallax
The name motion parallax may not ring a bell to anyone, but it is a very common perceptual phenomenon in our day.
Let's imagine that we are on a bus and we are on the highway. As the bus travels along the highway, trees and houses pass by, but in the opposite direction, giving the sensation that they are moving in the opposite direction, giving the sensation that they are moving in the opposite direction..
12. Perception can be a fiction
Optical illusions are a clear example of this. Believing everything you see is a big mistake, since our senses can be mistaken and, therefore, our perception can be a fiction. our senses can be mistaken and, in turn, the brain can misinterpret what is being perceived. what is being perceived.
13. Continuity of vision
Human beings blink. This is not a big surprise. However, do we ask ourselves how many times a day we blink, do we keep a count, and are we even aware of it?
Surely, the vast majority would answer these questions with a resounding no, but how is it possible that opening and closing our eyes, that is, momentarily stopping seeing, is something that we do not notice happening, even though it does?
A blink can last about 300 to 400 milliseconds.This means that the visual information is interrupted for a very short period of time, but it also means that visual stimulation is stopped. Although sensation is interrupted, perception is not. We continue to 'see', mentally speaking.
This is due to the fact that during blinking a neural inhibitory mechanism is activated, which reduces the awareness that the eyes are kept closed and that, effectively, no visual information is received, thus contributing to the stability and continuity of vision.
14. Perception of spiciness
When we eat something spicy, that is to say, that possesses capsaicin, the brain does not interpret it as if it were a taste in itself, but rather as if the thermal sensors of the tongue were being activated.. This is why spiciness is associated with heat.
15. Smells and emotions
The main reason why smells are more easily associated with emotions is because the sensory centers of the sense of smell are connected, through the olfactory nerve, directly with the most emotional part of the brain.
16. Colors affect depth perception
Cool colors are interpreted as distant, while warm colors are seen as closer.. Also, more saturated colors are interpreted as closer to the observer.
17. Color can affect taste
Perception arises from the combination of several physical stimuli that are given an interpretation at the cerebral level, as we were saying throughout the article.
A curious fact about this is how color can influence the taste of things, a technique that is widely used in marketing. technique which is widely used in marketing..
For example, the color of the cup when serving chocolate influences the perceived taste of this drink. This sweet liquid is not interpreted in the same way if it is served in a brown cup, according to the color of the chocolate, than in a blue one, for example.
- Schiffman, H.R. (1997). Sensory perception. Limusa, Noriega Editores. Mexico.
- Goldstein, E.B. (2006, 6th ed.). Sensation and perception. Madrid: Thompson
- Coren, S., Ward, L. M. & Enns, J. T. (2001, 5th ed.). Sensation and perception. Madrid: Macgraw-Hill
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)