From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"THE IDEA OF writing a book about the perception of odors came to me as I was reading the memoirs of Jean-Noel Halle, a member of the Societe Royale de Medecine under the ancien regime and the first incumbent of the chair of public hygiene established in Paris in 1794."--incipit The Foul and the Fragrant (1982) by Alain Corbin
Perception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation of the sense organs. For example, vision involves light striking the retina of the eye, smell is mediated by odor molecules, and hearing involves pressure waves.
Since the rise of experimental psychology in the 19th century, psychology's understanding of perception has progressed by combining a variety of techniques. Psychophysics quantitatively describes the relationships between the physical qualities of the sensory input and perception. Sensory neuroscience studies the brain mechanisms underlying perception.
Although the senses were traditionally viewed as passive receptors, the study of illusions and ambiguous images has demonstrated that the brain's perceptual systems actively and pre-consciously attempt to make sense of their input. There is still active debate about the extent to which perception is an active process of hypothesis testing, analogous to science, or whether realistic sensory information is rich enough to make this process unnecessary.
From Middle English perceiven, from Old French percevoir, perceveir, from Latin percipere, past participle perceptus (“take hold of, obtain, receive, observe”), from per (“by, through”) + capere (“to take”); see capable. Compare conceive, deceive, receive.
- Action-specific perception
- Alice in Wonderland syndrome
- Change blindness
- Neural correlates of consciousness
- Philosophy of perception
- Plant perception (physiology)
- Simulated reality
- The Doors of Perception (1954) by Aldous Huxley