The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







In psychology, sensation is the first stage in the chain of biochemical and neurologic events that begins with the impinging of a stimulus upon the receptor cells of a sensory organ, which then leads to perception, the mental state that is reflected in statements like "I see a uniformly blue wall."

A sensation that might lead to that statement could include the excitation of cone cells in the retina, spatially varying in the proportion of "blue" and "green" cone excitation due to portions of the wall receiving different proportions of yellowish artificial and bluish sky-light; it is common for these variations to be compensated for, within the brain, so that the non-uniform sensation yields a perception of uniform color.

In the West, the human body's senses are divided into 8: Visual, Auditory, Gustatory, Olfactory, Cutaneous, Kinesthetic, Vestibular, Organic, (and dubiously, Psychic). The ways in which these senses are divided from one another in concept, and combined in varying ratios in perceiving the world, differs based on individual physiology, social and cultural context, and physical surroundings. The whole sensory system, including both physical sensation and interpretation (or cognition) of information from the senses, is referred to as a sensorium.


Visual Sense

Light, a physico-chemical stimuli, enters to the eyes through the conjunctiva, covering the cornea. It then passes through the pupil, and then refracted by the crystalline lens of the eyes. Light is then channeled through the vitreous humour and then on to the retina. In the retina, there are two kinds of cells, rods and cones. Rods see black-and-white colors, and is dominant in the night (because, as Physics state, there are no colors in the night, because what we see is the colors reflected from the atmosphere). Cones then, see colored structures. Cones are exceptionally abundant in the fovea. The trichomatic color theory in psychology states that the cones are able to see the three colors of red, blue, and green. Anything which is not of these three are just variants of these. There is also another theory, the opponent process theory, which states that what we actually see is the exact opposite of the stimuli's true color. The optic nerve, the 2nd cranial nerve, then brings the image formed by the retina to the brain. The two brain meet in the optic chiasma.

Auditory Sense

Sound is received by the ear via the pinna, the outer ear sructure, which then leads the sound inside through the external auditory meatus . After the sound passes through the meatus, it goes to the eardrum, or tympanus, then vibrates its way through the tiny ossicles, the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes), then to the cochlea. The Basal THeory states that for every sound, there is a corresponding place in the cochlea's basilar membrane. The Volley Theory suggests that after reaching the cochlea, the auditory nerve then sends to the brain as volley impulse of sound.

Gustatory Sense

Taste, or Gustation, is the ability to detect sensory changes in the tongue, through the use of taste buds, situated deep into the papillae. Intriguingly, the sense called gustation is if fact comprised of varying ratios of multiple sensory systems, shifting in importance and attention as food is chewed, tasted and swallowed. These include the taste buds, the sense of touch in the structures of the mouth and digestive system, chemical sensation of irritation in the trigeminal nerve system, and unique receptors for sensing the properties of water located at the rear of the oral cavity.

Olfactory Sense

Smell, or Olfaction, is received by the olfactory bulb and the connected to the brain by the olfactory nerve, the 1st cranial nerve of the brain, just after the nasoturbinals of the nose warms, strains, and filter the air.

Cutaneous Sense

Please see the Skin article, for more details.

Kinesthetic Sense

The Kinesthetic sense is the sense of posture and movement

Vestibular Sense

The vestivular sense is the sense of balance. It is controlled by the action of the fluid or copula inside the Semicircular canals in the ear.

Organic Sense

The organic sense, per se, refers only to what you sense in your internal organs, or viscera, but can, however, be expanded to include certain physiological processes, suchas hunger, thirst, and drowsiness.

Psychic Sense

The psychic sense, is what is sometimes, colloquially, called, the sixth sense. It is used to perform clairvoyance, Extrasensory Perception, telepathy, and other psychic rituals. Most psychologists and scientists doubt the existence of any psychic sense(s), and characterize their existence as popular superstition.

Last updated: 08-02-2005 00:58:26
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13