S & P - Sensation and Perception

Vision

Using Color to Keep Track of Objects

The brain has trouble with keeping track of more than three objects at the same time. Color groupings, like the jerseys of a football team, helps us manage larger number of objects. How might you utilize color to help you organize studying?

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Extraordinary People: The Boy Who Sees Without Eyes

This is a documentary about a boy who is blind, but has taught himself to use echo location to navigate around the world. Do you think his abilities are based on memorization of familiar activities and surroundings? Do you think someone who was blind from birth would be able to use this technique to “see”?

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MRIs and Synesthesia

Cognitive neuroscientists have now documented hundreds of cases of synesthesia — the condition in which one sense triggers the response of a different one. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, behavioral neuroscientists are discovering the neurological basis of synesthesia by comparing patients' brains with those of healthy subjects. Do you know anyone who experiences synesthesia? If you had to attribute colors to certain numbers, what would they be?

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Making Sense of Sensory Information

Because seeing is so important for our functioning in the world, efforts to understand how perceptions are generated have most often focused on vision. Based on current research in cognitive neuroscience, this film explores the challenges of explaining visual perception. Can you think of some other real-world examples of visual misperception besides a barber poll?

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Cross Section of an Eyeball

This short clip consists of a cross-section diagram with eye structures labeled and corresponding narration. Structures such as the sclera, choroid, retina, ciliary body, and lens are defined and described. What part of the eye is described as having a smooth protective coat? What is the focusing mechanism of the eye?

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The Visual Mechanism

The visual system is described by a speaker using a simple cross section diagram from above. Structures such as the visual cortex, optic nerve, optic chiasm, and lateral geniculate bodies are defined and described. How is the optic nerve stimulated? If an image is viewed on the inner side of the eye, which visual cortex does the image go to? Which structure is responsible for depth perception?

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Exploring the Eye

A narrator explores the structures of the eye with a simple corresponding diagram. What divides the eye into two sections? Which parts of the eye are transparent, and why is that important?

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A Day in the Life of an M.C. Escher Drawing

In this comedic piece, Escher’s famous print Ascending and Descending is featured. Two of the men walking the never-ending staircase carry on a conversation. One of the men offers the other a banana. As to be expected, one slips on the banana and continues falling down the stairs. How does M.C. Escher create an illusion of depth? What does this piece symbolize?

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Hearing

3-D Hearing Aid for People with Cochlear Implants

This film includes simulations of what sounds sound like to people with cochlear implants with and without the new technology. Why is there a controversy surrounding cochlear implants?

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Hearing Motion

Imagine if words created a taste in your mouth, or music created bursts of color. This rare condition, called synesthesia, results in your senses being crossed. As this ScienCentral News video reports, researchers have now found people who "hear" motion. What kind of task would you devise to test people for this type of synesthesia?

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Synesthesia - Heroes

This clip from the television show, Heroes, shows a woman playing a cello. As she plays, she sees colors radiating from the strings. There have been over 60 types of synesthesia identified, including color-graphemic synesthesia, ordinal linguistic personification, and number form synesthesia. Define synesthesia and describe some of the different manifestations. What are some of the causes?

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Science of Sound

This NASA Connect segment explores all the basics of sound including how it works and how it travels. The video also explains how the ear works. What habits or processes threaten the sensory hair cells in the ear? Which part of the auditory system identifies the origin of sounds? Which part identifies the meaning of sounds?

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Deafening Sound: Noise in the City

In this clip from the documentary Deafening Sound, Nancy Nadler, president of the League for the Hard of Hearing in New York City measures the decibel level at a crowded street corner. In other portions of this documentary, chronic ringing in the ear, or tinnitus, is also discussed. When one loses the ability to hear over time what is typically occurring physiologically? What is the source of tinnitus? What is the experience like?

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The Auditory Pathways

A simple illustration and narration describe the structures that transport sensory information all the way to the brain areas that process it. Where do the auditory pathways begin? Where is their endpoint? How does sound received by one ear travel to both cortexes?

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Tinnitus: Can You Hear That?

A public service announcement begins with young men and women holding their ears and asking “can you hear it?” Some people admit that they hear it “all the time.” A ringing noise surfaces to simulate the experience of tinnitus. What causes tinnitus? What are some of the risk factors for young adults?

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Benny Lava

This is one of many videos from the artist Prabu Deva (aka Benny Lava) that has been posted on YouTube. People have gone through and transliterated what they believe he is singing – that is, the words at the bottom of the clip are not what are actually being sung, but what someone thinks it sounds like. Try listening to the video with your eyes closed. Can you tell what he is singing? Now watch the video and read the captions. Watch the video a third time, again with your eyes closed. Can you tell what he’s singing this time? How is this an example of top-down processing?

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Touch

The Human Skin Animation Video

This short animation provides a quick overview of the epidermis and dermis. The body’s largest organ is the skin, which serves to provide protection to the rest of the body. What are the various kinds of mechanoreceptors and where are they located in the skin? What is the function of each?

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The Sensory Cortex and Touch

A narrator explains our sense of touch using simple diagrams. The sensory cortex is represented in red and has an arrow pointing to it. As the process of touch proceeds from the epidermis, the associated structures are highlighted and denoted with arrows. What is the function of Meissner’s corpuscles? How do Pacinian and Ruffini corpuscles differ?

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The Tacto Phone

This video demonstrates The Tacto Phone, a concept developed by Oren Horev and Victor Szilagyi, which explored how the back of a mobile phone could be used as a space to engage the hand's sense of touch. What is Haptic Exploration, and what do we use it for? Why is it vital to our everyday lives? How is Haptic Exploration demonstrated here?

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Rubber Hand Illusion

The rubber hand illusion might help develop more realistic sensations for those who have lost a limb. What do you think accounts for the sensation that the hand is being touched? There are no nerves in a fake hand, so what are the amputees reacting to?

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Virtual Reality for Soldier’s Burn Pain

University of Washington researcher Hunter Hoffman has developed a cool virtual reality game that has actually been shown to make the excruciating rehabilitation fun. Paul Simon's music from the album "Graceland" is played during the game. What other games might work in this kind of situation? What other applications could you see for this type of device?

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Taste

Taste Centers

This clip goes into detail about some of the overlooked characteristics of the tongue, such as the different types of papillae, how salivary glands are connected to taste buds, and the base of the tongue. What are tastebuds and where are they located? What are the four types of papillae? Where are they located? When are the salivary glands stimulated?

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The Sense of Taste

A short animated diagram introduces the perception of taste starting with the detection of food molecules all the way to the brain. How does our gustatory system operate?

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Supertaster's Taste Buds

The documentary profiles a “supertaster” and discusses how our taste buds process different flavors. Computer generated footage is coupled with that from a dental camera, showing a person chewing food. How does the tongue of a so-called “supertaster” differ from the average person’s? How prevalent are “supertasters” in the population? Why do children typically dislike bitter-tasting vegetables such as Brussels sprouts?

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Umami

We're all familiar with sweet, salty, bitter and sour tastes. But how many of us have heard of Umami? What kinds of foods can you find this taste in?

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Mushrooms that Taste Like Bacon

Chef Elliot Prag of the Natural Gourmet Institute shows Sunita Reed how to make shiitake mushrooms taste like bacon and bring out their Umami flavor. Why do you think this recipe works this way? What is happening with your taste buds?

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Sweet Tooth Gene

Researchers have linked a specific gene difference to consuming more sugary foods. And as this ScienCentral News video explains, they even uncovered how the sweet tooth gene likely affects sugar intake. Do you think that this is really a genetic “defect,” or could there be a reason certain people feel the “need” for more sugar?

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Smell

The Olfactory Membrane

The male narrator focuses on the structures of the olfactory membrane such as the receptor cells, cilia, and olfactory glands by using simple illustrations with arrows the appropriate times. How is smell information passed from the nostril cavity to the brain? What is the function of the Bowman’s glands?

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The Olfactory Pathway

This short clip follows nicely after the clip above. In a similar fashion to the previous clip, the narrator reviews how air passes the olfactory membrane to the cranial nerves, and eventually to the olfactory cortex. Imagine you are blindfolded and someone places an object under your nose. You are asked to identify it. Suppose you correctly identified the object. How did you do it? Explain the process using what you know about the olfactory pathway.

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Amazing Facts About a Cat’s Sense of Smell

Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than humans? This short clip gives many facts about a cat’s olfactory senses, especially in comparison with humans. What is the difference between macrosmatic and microsmatic? What are cats? What are humans? Why is this difference important?

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Chocolate Bird: Action Olfaction

This is the opening scene from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (The soundtrack has been replaced.) A note on YouTube from the person who uploaded it says “Try and immerse yourself in the chocolaty aromas . . .” Did you find that your olfactory system was affected by watching this video? Why or why not?

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How to Attract Girls – Pheromones

In this clip from Brainiac Science, an experiment is conducted: Will a blindfolded woman be most attracted to a man who smells of pheromones (or, in this case, a synthetic substitute), one who smells of aftershave, or one who smells of sweat? How scientific do you think the results of this experiment are? What are pheromones? How would you explain to someone how pheromones work?

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The Adventures of the Nasal Ranger at the NY State Fair

Reporter Hart Seely of The Post-Standard attacks the New York State Fair, armed only with an olfactometer. His goal is to “measure” the different smells. He smells several locations around the fair, including the chicken coops, pig pens, and barbecue pit. What do the different odor units mean? Why might it be important to test your sense of smell on an olfactometer every few years? What types of disorders might be precipitated by a loss of smell?

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Anosmia: Life Without Smell

This short documentary follows the lives of two people who suffer from Anosmia – they have lost the ability to be able to smell. Each of the people featured in this video lost their sense of smell in different ways. In addition to the ways featured here – a virus and nasal polyps – what are some causes of anosmia? How can the loss of one’s sense of smell affect the other senses? Is there a different type of effect than if you lost your sight or hearing?

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