Psychology Vocabulary in Use - Anna Treger, Bronisław Treger - ebook

Psychology Vocabulary in Use ebook

Anna Treger, Bronisław Treger

5,0

Opis

Język angielski - poziom B2–C1

Podręcznik został napisany z myślą o tych wszystkich, którzy chcą doskonalić swoją znajomość słownictwa i stylistyki oraz umiejętność czytania różnych odmian angielskich publikacji psychologicznych (artykułów, monografii i podręczników, ale też pozycji popularnonaukowych).

Podręcznik jest skierowany zwłaszcza do studentów kierunków, na których psychologia jest liczącym się przedmiotem.
To nie tylko psychologia jako taka, lecz także pedagogika, socjologia i dyscypliny medyczne. Autorzy uwzględnili także miłośników wiedzy psychologicznej, którzy z czystej ciekawości i pasji chcą pogłębiać swoją wiedzę, sięgając do anglojęzycznych źródeł.


ŁATWA NAUKA

Książka składa się z trzynastu rozdziałów koncentrujących się na wybranych obszarach psychologii. Oprócz tekstu wprowadzającego każdy z nich zawiera zestaw ćwiczeń pozwalających na opanowanie i utrwalenie kompetencji językowej w danym obszarze. Ćwiczenia są zróżnicowane. Jedne z nich testują rozumienie tekstu czytanego (pytania typu prawda/fałsz, quizy), inne to zadania wielokrotnego wyboru, uzupełnianie luk własnymi odpowiedziami, ćwiczenia ze słowotwórstwa, dopasowywanie słów do definicji/opisów i zastępowanie wyrażeń z języka potocznego terminami naukowymi.

Z podręcznika największe korzyści odniosą osoby, które opanowały kursy General English na poziomie średnio zaawansowanym i wyższym.

DO SAMODZIELNEJ NAUKI I DLA LEKTORA
Podręcznik został opracowany w taki sposób, aby mógł być wykorzystany zarówno do nauki w grupie pod opieką lektora, jak i przez preferujących samokształcenie.

NAGRANIE
Nagrania mp3 wybranych tekstów z książki są dostępne gratis na stronie internetowej wydawnictwa.

***

Anna Treger jest anglistką, wykładowcą w Studium Praktycznej Nauki Języ-ków Obcych APS. Prowadzi m.in. kurs English for Psychology dla studentów Instytutu Psychologii Stosowanej APS. Napisała kilkanaście podręczników do nauki angielskiego.

Bronisław Treger jest profesorem na Wydziale Stosowanych Nauk Społecznych APS.

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Popularność




Recenzent

dr Agnieszka Bieńkowska

Weryfikacja językowa

Terence Clark-Ward

Redakcja

Anna Żółcińska

Projekt okładki

Amadeusz Targoński

Adaptacja i aranżacja rysunków: Studio KARANDASZ

Ilustracje z serwisu Fotolia.com

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Lektor

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Copyright © 2016, 2018 by Anna Treger i Bronisław Treger

Copyright © 2016, 2018 by Poltext Sp. z o.o.

Wszelkie prawa zastrzeżone. Nieautoryzowane rozpowszechnianie całości lub fragmentów niniejszej publikacji w jakiejkolwiek postaci zabronione. Wykonywanie kopii metodą elektroniczną, fotograficzną, a także kopiowanie książki na nośniku filmowym, magnetycznym, optycznym lub innym powoduje naruszenie praw autorskich niniejszej publikacji. Niniejsza publikacja została elektronicznie zabezpieczona przed nieautoryzowanym kopiowaniem, dystrybucją i użytkowaniem. Usuwanie, omijanie lub zmiana zabezpieczeń stanowi naruszenie prawa.

Wydanie z mp3

Warszawa 2019

Poltext Sp. z o.o.

www.poltext.pl

[email protected]

ISBN 978-83-8175-038-7 (format epub) 

ISBN 978-83-8175-039-4 (format mobi) 

WSTĘP

Podręcznik Psychology Vocabulary in Use. Podręcznik do nauki angielskiej terminologii psychologicznej został napisany z myślą o tych wszystkich, którzy powinni doskonalić swoją znajomość słownictwa, stylistyki i umiejętność wnikliwego, analitycznego czytania różnych odmian angielskiego dyskursu psychologicznego: artykułów i monografii naukowych, fachowych podręczników – ale też szkiców popularyzatorskich czy publicystycznych.

Autorzy podręcznika jako grupę docelową brali pod uwagę zwłaszcza studentów kierunków, na których psychologia jest liczącym się przedmiotem. To nie tylko – co oczywista – specjalności dedykowane tej właśnie dziedzinie, lecz także pedagogika, socjologia, filozofia i rozmaite dyscypliny medyczne. Oraz – last but not least – uwzględniali tych miłośników wiedzy psychologicznej, którzy z czystej ciekawości i pasji chcą pogłębiać swoją wiedzę, sięgając do anglojęzycznych źródeł. To również ze względu na nich podręcznik został opracowany w taki sposób, aby mógł być pożyteczną pomocą zarówno do nauki w grupie pod opieką lektora, jak i dla preferujących samokształcenie. Autodydaktom test sprawdzający, a także dokładny i szczegółowy klucz znajdujące się na końcu książki będą pozwalały na weryfikację postępów w opanowaniu materiału.

Książka zawiera trzynaście rozdziałów ogniskujących się na wybranych zasadniczych obszarach psychologii. Oprócz tekstu wprowadzającego każdy z nich mieści w sobie zestaw ćwiczeń pozwalających na opanowanie i utrwalenie kompetencji językowej w zakresie terminologii psychologicznej. Ćwiczenia są zróżnicowane. Jedne z nich sprawdzają rozumienie tekstu czytanego (pytania typu prawda/fałsz, quizy), inne to zadania wielokrotnego wyboru, uzupełnianie luk własnymi odpowiedziami, ćwiczenia ze słowotwórstwa, dopasowywanie słów do definicji/opisów i zastępowanie wyrażeń z języka potocznego terminami naukowymi. W każdym z tekstów wprowadzających i niektórych ćwiczeniach wytłuszczone zostały terminy mające kluczowe znaczenie dla danej problematyki psychologicznej.

W książce przyjęte są zasady pisowni bytyjskiej. Z podręcznika w największym stopniu skorzystają osoby, które opanowały kursy General English na poziomie średnio zaawansowanym i wyższym.

1.THE BRAIN

Here are some brain structures in close-up.

Exercise 1

Read the text and do the exercise that follows.

The brain is the most complex organ in the body (in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals), serving as a part of the central nervous system. The remaining part of the nervous system is the spinal cord. The brain is responsible for our thoughts, emotions, moods, ability to learn and remember, speech, personality, all our experiences and basic functions. Although nearly everything we do is controlled and coordinated by the brain, there are some things we don’t need it to do, such as simple reflex actions.

The brain is located within the skull and comprises the cerebrum, the cerebellum andthe brainstem. The brain consists of two classes of cells: glial cells andnerve cells also called neurons. Glial cells are supporting cells that provide neurons with nutrients, protection and physical support. Neurons are considered the most important cells in the brain. They are each connected by synapsesto thousands of other neurons, forming neural networks. The neurons transmit information to the rest of the body through electrical and chemical signals and relate information back to specific areas of the brain, where it is processed into an appropriate response.

The cerebrum is the largest portion of the human brain. It consists of thecerebral cortex (also referred to as grey matter) and several subcortical structures including the amygdala, the hippocampus, the thalamus, the hypothalamus andolfactory bulbs.

The cerebrum is divided into left and right hemispheresjoined together by the corpus callosum (a structure containing nerve fibers) and into four sections: frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe andtemporal lobe. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side.

The brainstem is made of the midbrain, the pons andthe medulla oblongata.

In the course of evolution, the human brain has tripled in size and developed three distinctive layers. The brainstem and cerebellum developed first. The limbic system (consisting of different brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus, including the hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus) developed next, and the cerebral cortex developed last.

Representing only 2% of the total body weight, the adult human brain consumes about 20% of energy produced by the body.

In the past physicians and researchers had to wait until a post-mortem was performed to examine the brain. Now they can use sophisticated brain imaging techniques to cope with the complex anatomy of the brain without cutting it open. The most common techniques currently used include the computed tomographyscan (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) andpositron emission tomography (PET). When scientists want to study the structure of the brain, they use CT scanning or MRI. When they are more interested in the brain’s activity, they turn to PET scanning and fMRI.

Here are the main functions of the brain structures.

The cerebrum controls higher mental functions.

The amygdala controls emotions.

The hippocampus is involved in the formation of long-term memory.

The thalamus relays sensory information.

The hypothalamus maintains the body in a balanced condition. It controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, anger and more.

The olfactory bulbs are responsible for the sense of smell.

The cerebellum coordinates body’s movement, posture and balance.

The midbrain is responsible for the regulation of vision and hearing.

The pons regulates sleep-wake cycles.

The medulla oblongata regulates basic body functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.

Decide if the following statements are true (T) or false (F).

Breathing and heartbeat do not require the brain. Glial cells are types of nerve cells. The medulla oblongata is part of the cerebral cortex. If the stroke occurs in the left side of the brain, the right side of the body is affected. The human brain consumes a disproportionate amount of energy.The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. The cerebral cortex is the brain structure with the longest ancestry. A brain autopsy remains the only way to examine the brain thoroughly.

Exercise 2

Complete the sentences using the verbs from the text in Exercise 1. Sometimes two words are possible.

Each part of the brain _____________ specific functions of the body that we rely on in our every-day life._____________ at the back of the brain, the occipital lobe is involved mainly in vision. Damage to the occipital lobe may result in a variety of visual problems. Neural networks are _____________ from thousands of neurons connected to one another.Neurons serve as the basic building blocks of the nervous system, _____________information throughout the whole body.The right side of the brain _____________information in an emotional way, whilst the left side does it more logically and analytically. Requiring a constant supply of nutrients in order to function properly, the brain _____________ much more energy than other organs.

Exercise 3

Choose the correct option.

A woman sustained severe brain damage in a car accident. After the accident she was no longer able to process emotional stimuli. For instance, she wouldn’t be scared in a high-risk situation. Which brain structure do you think was damaged in the car accident?

a) thalamus

b) brainstem

c) amygdala

d) hypothalamus

Clive Wearing, an accomplished musician, has developed profound amnesia following viral encephalitis. As a result, he is not able to form new long-term memories. Which structure of the brain do you think was damaged by the virus?

a) medulla oblongata

b) hippocampus

c) hypothalamus

d) cerebellum

A man is unsteady in his movements after an injury to his brain. He is not able to walk in a straight line, and his body swaggers back and forth. Which brain structure do you think has been damaged by the injury?

a) amygdala

b) cerebellum

c) thalamus

d) corpus callosum

Following a head injury, a woman suffers from an impaired sense of smell. Because she has problems identifying and detecting odours, she wouldn’t be alerted to foul-smelling food or to the smoke of a fire. Which brain structure do you think has been damaged?

a) olfactory bulb

b) amygdala

c) pons

d) cerebellum

You are out of breath after riding up a hill on a bike. Which brain structure do you think will help you regulate your heartbeat?

a) hypothalamus

b) thalamus

c) medulla oblongata

d) cerebellum

Andrew is often sleepy in class and doesn’t comprehend much of what is being said. Which part of the brain is responsible for his sleepiness?

a) cerebellum

b) hypothalamus

c) corpus callosum

d) brainstem

I often wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry. I can’t fall back to sleep unless I go to the kitchen and eat until I’m full. Which brain structure makes me feel hungry?

a) hypothalamus

b) cerebellum

c) corpus callosum

d) hippocampus

Exercise 4

Choose the correct option.

From Brain Injury to Maths Genius

Back in 2002, Jason Padgett was an average Joe from the streets. He had little interest in academia and he spent every spare moment drinking in bars, hanging out at the gym or chasing girls.

Then, however, something happened that forever changed his life. On the night of September 13, 2002 Jason Padgett went out to a karaoke bar near his home and was brutally mugged. The blows he received to the forehead/head/scalp (1) that night left him with a traumatic/trauma/traumatised (2) brain injury. At hospital doctors diagnosed Padgett with severe concussion/collision/contusion (3), but released him the same night. Soon after the attack, Padgett discovered that he could visualise geometric shapes and physical concepts. In an interview for Live Science he described this experience: ‘I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life.’ There were downsides that came along with Padgett’s new skills. Once a people person and a heavy partier, he has developed obsessive-compulsive disorder and debilitating social anxiety.

A series of brain scans that Padgett underwent revealed profound changes in the left lobe/cortex/hemisphere (4) of his brain and hyperactivity in the left parietal cortex/cerebrum/cerebellum(5) – an area that integrates information from different senses – which seems to be causing his extraordinary abilities called ‘savant/prodigy/genius(6) syndrome.’

Jason Padgett’s case is an example of neurotransmission/neurogenesis/neuroplasticity (7), the ability of the brain to change. It shows that a brain injury can alter an individual’s behaviour and personality. It also provides yet another argument in the ‘mind-body’ debate in favour of materialism, indicating that we are all the work/workings/workers (8) of our brains – all of mental life including thoughts, emotions, sensations, reasoning, and the like is the product of brain activities.

Exercise 5

Put the names of brain diseases in the correct column.

epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, meningitis, brain aneurysm, encephalitis, Huntington’s disease, brain abscess, (mild, moderate, severe) traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, intracerebral haemorrhage, dementia, cerebral edema, Parkinson’s disease, (malignant or benign) brain tumour

BRAIN DISEASES

Infections

Seizures

Trauma

Growth

Vascular Conditions

Neurodegenerative Conditions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise 6

Complete the sentences with the names of brain diseases.

Her fits of _____________ occur quite infrequently, but each is scary to witness. During a seizure, she loses consciousness and has violent muscle spasms.The woman’s __________ first showed itself as ordinary forgetfulness. She couldn’t remember simple things such as telephone numbers, but over time her condition progressively worsened until she was unable to recall her own name.The patient contracted viral _____________, which damaged his brain and dramatically affected his memory. Since this point, he has been unable to recall most of his past and form new memories.The boy suffered a mild _____________ after hitting his head on the ice while playing hockey. The boy was a bit dazed and confused after the incident, but he was otherwise fine. He was taken to the local hospital all the same for observation.Even though brain _____________ burst relatively rarely, a rupture may cause fatal brain damage due to bleeding. The man suffered a _____________in a serious car crash that almost took his life. After brain surgery and a long therapy he was able to return to normal life, but the accident left him a changed man. Once a kind and gentle person, he became easily irritable and prone to temper outbursts at the slightest thing. A 52-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with severe headaches and dizziness. An MRI scan revealed a _____________on the right side of her brain. Luckily it was operable and the woman underwent immediate surgery to remove it. Mr Baker suffered from high blood pressure, which went untreated for years mostly due to his distrust of doctors. One day he was working in the garage when he suddenly dropped to the floor. He was rushed to hospital, where his family members were informed that he had a massive ______________ .Following the _____________, the man lost his speech and most of his motor skills. Given the normal pattern of recovery aided by rehabilitation therapy, he was told that he might get better in a few weeks’ time.

Klucz ⇒

2.SLEEP AND DREAMS

Exercise 1

Choose the correct option.

Dreams are mental experiences, typically in the form of images and sensations that come about involuntarily in the mind during REM sleep. Dreams can be vivid, vague/vogue (1) or totally absurd. They can be joyful, but also very disturbing/distorting (2), and most people have at least one episode of waking up in the middle of the night all drenched in sweat.

While it is easy to provide a definition of a dream, why we actually dream remains one of the science’s greatest unanswered questions, though it has been a topic of study dating as far back as 4000 B.C. Early civilisations saw dreams as a channel of communication with the spiritual world and in many cultures they are still believed to be mystical. To date, many theories have been offered as to what the purpose of dreaming is. According to some scientists, dreams are random and meaningless/meaningful (3). As psychologist Steven Pinker wrote, ‘dreaming might be a kind of screen saver in which it doesn’t really matter what the content is as long as certain parts of the brain are active.’ However to others, dreams do make sense and serve particular functions, including memory consolidation, information processing and threat simulation/stimulation (4). Whatever the theory, none is yet definitive.

One of the first theorists in modern times to consider dreams was Sigmund Freud. According to him dreams were the ‘royal road to the unconscious’, usually relating to our repressed/regressed (5) emotions. He believed that addressing these emotions is a key to curing mental problems. To help people understand the meaning of their dreams, he developed the concept of manifest and latent dream content. The manifest content is the literal plot of the dream, whilst the latent content is what hides behind the plot. Although Freud’s dream theories have been largely disproved, they still provoke scientists into heated debates and some people continue to believe that dreams are messages from the unconscious/subconscious (6) mind and look into them to gain insight into their lives.

Exercise 2

a) Match the opposites and use one of each pair to complete the sentences in b.

A B 1. latent a) meaningful 2. asleep b) vivid 3. vague c) uncommon 4. logical d) waking 5. random e) manifest 6. sleeping f) repressed 7. universal g) awake 8. conscious h) bizarre

b) Complete the sentences.

My dream last night was rather _____________, but I remember particularly well a chase scene involving gun shots.During REM, brain activity is similar to that of the _____________ brain.Some researchers believe that dreaming is a _____________ by-product of neuronal activity during sleep.Your body reacts to dreams in much the same way as if you were _____________.Being chased and falling are examples of _____________ dreams that occur to most people.According to Freud, _____________ content is the hidden, actual meaning of the dream.Dream interpretation is a common practice in psychoanalysis used to gain insight into an individual’s _____________ needs or desires.As the night goes on, according to a new study, your dreams get more and more _____________ to the level of the impossible.

Exercise 3

Choose the correct option in italics in each of these sentences.

During slow-wave sleep/dream, the body fully relaxes and recharges for the next day.A good night’s sleep/dream may help people find a solution even to a serious problem.Adults often have sleep/dream imagery that relates to their waking experiences.People who dream in non-REM sleep/dream don’t usually have vivid dreams.It’s estimated that almost one third of the world’s population suffers from sleep/dream disorders of various kinds.Approximately, about 80% of our sleeping/dreaming occurs during a stage characterised by rapid eye movement.One of the reasons scientists study sleep/dreams is to learn how people solve their problems by ‘sleeping/dreaming on it.’Sleep/Dream paralysis is a condition in which our muscles become immobile, preventing the body from acting out our dreams.

Exercise 4

Replace the underlined words/phrases with the words from the box.

vague, recurring, repressed, random, lucid, waking

In Revonuso’s Threat Simulation Theory, continual nightmares prepare us for bad situations in the real world. Some researchers maintain that dreams are accidental projections of the brain. Dreams occurring during non-REM sleep tend to be unclear and hazy. During REM sleep, the brain is as active as it is during the conscious and alert state. According to Freud, dreams reflect a person’s hidden desires which have been pushed to the unconscious. Conscious dreaming is a relatively rare phenomenon of being aware within a dream that you are dreaming.

Exercise 5

Choose the correct option(s). Sometimes more than one option is possible.

The Sleep Cycle

Sleep is a periodic state of mind characterised by reduced motor activity and suspended consciousness, in which a person in largely unresponsive to external stimuli until awaken.

When you sleep, you cycle through four stages of sleep: three stages of non-REM sleep (N1, N2 and N3) and one stage of REM sleep. Each stage of non-REM sleep can last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Sleep begins in stage 1. In this stage you sleep mildly/lightly/gently (1), so it’s easy to wake you up. If you wake up, you may feel that you haven’t been asleep at all. It is common to experience hypnic jerks, involuntary muscle twitches/ticks/spasms (2), during this time.

In stage 2, the body prepares for deep sleep. Breathing/Respiration/Snoring (3) and heart rate slow down and body temperature begins to decrease. A person in this stage needs more intense stimuli than in stage 1 to awaken.

Stage 3 (previously divided into stages 3 and 4) is where deep sleep, often referred to as slow-wave sleep, begins. The brain produces slow brain waves known as delta waves. You are less responsive to external stimuli and it is harder to rouse/arouse/wake (4) you during this stage of sleep. During the stages of non-REMS sleep the body repairs itself and the immune system is strengthened/boosted/activated (5).

Sleep does not progress to REM sleep now. After stage 3, stage 2 is repeated before entering/approaching/reaching (6) REM sleep. Usually, this transition is smooth, however very few children and even fewer adults experience night terrors/sleep terrors/nightmares (7). Technically, these are not dreams, but rather episodes of extreme fear, screaming and flailing. However frightening to witness, they aren’t a reason for concern, and the next morning the child or an adult wakes up, not remembering anything of the incident. This is also the stage during which sleepwalking/lunatics/somnambulism (8) and bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) may take place.

Typically, REM sleep occurs after 90 minutes of falling asleep and it accounts for about 20–25% of total sleep time. This stage gets its name from rapid movement of the eyes that accompanies it. It is also characterised by increased brain activity and heart rate. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while brain activity is similar to that during waking/walking/woken (9) hours, the body hardly moves as most of the muscles are nearly paralysed. This is the time when most dreams occur and if you are awoken during this stage, your dreams tend to be vivid/vague/blurry (10). The first REM stage lasts for about 10 minutes with each recurring stage expanding.

Once REM sleep is over, the cycle begins again in stage 2. Throughout the night, it is repeated approximately 4 to 5 times until you finally wake up in the morning.

Complete the typical sleep pattern for healthy adults:

N1→ _____→_____→_____→_____→_____→_____ and so forth.

NOTE

REM is read as one word, not as a series of individual letters.

Exercise 6

Match the names of sleep disorders 1–7 with their descriptions a–g.

insomniaapnoeanarcolepsyrestless legs syndrome (RLS)sleepwalkingcircadian rhythm sleep disorder (CRSD)Kleine-Levin syndrome/’sleeping beauty’ syndrome

a)

My sister suffers from this condition. She has been seen on many occasions going down the stairs in her sleep as if it were a middle of the day. Once she was found in the kitchen making herself a sandwich. Luckily, our father stays up into the early hours of the morning and steers her back to bed.

b)

Most people who have this disorder don’t even know they have it, as it appears when they are asleep. They stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep due to blocked or narrowed airways. They unknowingly wake up and fall asleep all through the night and, as a result, are somnolent during the day. My husband had gone undiagnosed for years before he finally got help. Now he sleeps with a CPAP machine, which keeps his airways open and makes him sleep better.

c)

I toss and turn in bed and can’t fall asleep even if I’m very tired. And if I finally do, I frequently wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep until daybreak. So again, I toss and turn. If it weren’t for the sleeping pills, I would probably never sleep through the night.

d)

This disorder is most prevalent among teenagers and young adults. Due to their nightowlish habits, they don’t fall asleep until late at night and sleep in until the late morning or afternoon. When they are forced to get up early, they feel more whacked than they were before going to bed.

e)

My cousin has been diagnosed with this disorder. He has strange episodes where he becomes increasingly drowsy and sleeps long hours in the day and night. He only wakes up to eat something and use the bathroom. When encouraged to get dressed and do something, he gets aggressive and calls people nasty – something he would never do in his normal state. Each sleep episode may last days, weeks and sometimes even months. In between them, he appears completely healthy.

f)

Kate is drowsy for most of the day and has a hard time staying awake. She has periods when she suddenly falls asleep for seconds or minutes at a time regardless of where it happens without any preceding tiredness. She may doze off at work, during reading a newspaper, or even over her meals. Recently she has dropped off at the wheel, almost causing an accident. Although there are days when she manages things, her condition has seriously affected her work and home life.

g)

Viola started having these disturbing ‘pins and needles’ sensations about five years ago. Every night she kicks and moves her legs from side to side, unable to settle herself to sleep. She has tried everything, including prescribed sleeping pills, to ease the sensations, but nothing seems to work, except for moving her legs.

Klucz ⇒

3.SENSATION AND PERCEPTION

Exercise 1

Read the text and do the exercise that follows.

We have a multitude of senses. In addition to the five traditional ones, such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, we have other senses, including balance, temperature, and pain, that register those stimuli that are beyond our traditional senses. The senses work together to provide different types of information about our immediate environment.

Specialised nerve endings known as sensory receptors located in the eyes, ears, skin and elsewhere, are activated by specific stimuli from the environment and from the body itself, which results in a subjective experience called sensation. Stimuli are converted or transduced into electrical signals by the process of transduction and relayed to the brain through nerves, where they are interpreted and processed into a cohesive and meaningful pattern, which is called perception.

Each sensory receptor has a particular threshold (or limen) below which it doesn’t respond to stimuli. Therefore, to produce any sensation at all, the stimuli reaching a sensory receptor must possess a minimum intensity. Otherwise, they are too weak to be detected. Some of our senses, however, can respond to stimuli below the awareness threshold and interpret them outside of consciousness, a phenomenon known as subliminal perception. This phenomenon has become the basis for the industry selling subliminal self-help recordings that promise to help people lose weight, quit smoking, or improve their self-esteem while they sleep.

When the stimulus is barely detected, we speak of this as the absolute threshold. The absolute threshold is therefore a critical boundary between no response and some response. Not only does the absolute threshold vary from person to person, but also from moment to moment for the same person, depending on a number of factors, such as age, interest, fatigue, attention and expectation. In most cases, though, the absolute threshold for each of our senses is surprisingly low. For instance, under ideal conditions our vision can detect a candle flame even 50 km away and our taste allows to detect a teaspoonful of sugar dissolved in about 9 litres of water. How much larger must the amount of sugar be before you notice that the water has become sweeter? The smallest change needed for a person to tell that two things are different is called the difference threshold or the just noticeable difference (jnd). Our ability to detect a difference in a stimulus depends on the intensity of the initial stimulus. For example, if you hold a weight of 2 kg. and add to it another 0.2 kg., then the increase in weight is apparent. However, if you hold a weight of 5 kg., you wouldn’t notice the difference if 0.2 kg. was added. It takes 0.5 kg. added to the weight of 5 kg. to make the difference noticeable. As it turns out, ‘the jnd is always large when the stimulus intensity is high, and small when the stimulus intensity is low.’ This concept, named after its observer, is referred to as Weber’s law.

If you are exposed to a continuous stimulus for an extended period of time, sensory adaptation occurs, and you become less responsive to the stimulus. For example, if someone near you is wearing a perfume, the scent may smell very strong at first, but after a short time you can’t notice it at all. Similarly, you feel the touch of your clothes when you first put them on, but soon you adapt and no longer notice them.

All senses experience sensory adaptation, perhaps with the exception of the sense of pain.

NOTE

Although both sensory adaptation and habituation refer to becoming accustomed to a repeated stimulus, they are two different phenomena. Habituation is a behavioural phenomenon, whilst sensory adaptation is a physiological phenomenon. In habituation, you can have some control over whether you notice a stimulus to which you have become habituated. Therefore, after you have become accustomed to a ticking clock, you can hear it again, if your attention is brought back to it. In sensory adaptation, you have no conscious control over a stimulus. After you have adapted to an odour, you cannot make yourself smell it again.

Decide if the following sentences are true (T) or false (F).

Transduction is the reception of sensory information from the environment. Sensation is the process of interpreting sensory information. Perception follows sensation. There are no fixed thresholds. We can never detect stimuli without being aware of them. The absolute threshold refers to the lowest detectable level of a stimulus. The difference threshold is how much something needs to change for us to notice the change. The whole business has developed around the notion that subliminal messages can help people achieve their goals. The ability to detect a stimulus depends not only on its intensity, but also on the state of the observer. Sensory adaptation occurs when a stimulus decreases in intensity.

Exercise 2

Complete the sentences with the italicised verbs from the text in Exercise 1. Sometimes there is more than one answer.

By the process of transduction, environmental stimuli are _____________ into neural signals that are then _____________ to the brain for processing.A stimulus must be sufficiently intense in order to be _____________.Every day our senses _____________ a variety of information from inside and outside of our bodies.Once the information from the senses reaches the brain, it is _____________ into what we see. Sensory receptors, when _____________ by changes in the environment, send their information to the brain.Under certain circumstances, we may _____________ to stimuli unconsciously.

Exercise 3

a) Match the names of the traditional senses in column A with their more formal terms in column B.

A B 1. sense of taste a) audition 2. sense of smell b) vision 3. sense of hearing c) tactition 4. sense of sight d) gustation 5. sense of touch e) olfaction

b) For each of the senses, write an adjectival form. In some instances, there may be more than one form. Then use them to complete the sentences below.

As they grow, children explore the world around them through _____________ sensations. For example, they learn about objects by putting them in their mouths. If a person experiences _____________ hallucinations, his/her food may taste as if it was rotten or poisoned.When an aggressive dog approaches you, your sensory receptors detect the _____________ stimuli, such as barking or growling and convey them to the brain. _____________ illusions fool our brains into seeing something that’s not really there, e.g. an animation instead of a still image._____________ impairment results from a range of causes, including injuries at birth, disorders (e.g. retinal degeneration), trauma, and the old age.People with damaged _____________ receptors are not able to detect dangerous odours such as those from gas leaks or fires.

Exercise 4

Choose the correct option in italics in each of these sentences.

Individuals with optic/optical defects need to choose the right device for their specific needs. It’s not unusual for a visually/vision impaired person to have a few low vision/visual aids around the house.Low visual/vision