Book Definition

The process by which stimulation of a sensory receptor produces neural impulses that the brain interprets as a sound, a visual image, an odor, a taste, a pain, or other sensory image. Sensation represents the first series of steps in processing of incoming information.

The senses all operate in much the same way, but each extract the different information and sends it to its own specialized processing region in the brain.

Different sensations occur because different areas of the brain become active.
Sensation is when your receptors send impulses to your brain allowing you to hear, touch, smell, taste or detect when you're in pain.
Sensation is when you touch/smell/hear something and neural impulses go to the brain, which determines what the stimulus was.
Our brain is constantly bombarded with large amounts of sensory information, such as temperature, voices, colors, brightness of light, smell, etc., but we can only hear a specific band of sound waves and see a specific range of electromagnetic radiation - visible light.

Absolute Threshold

The Absolute Threshold is the point where something becomes noticeable to our senses, thus called absolute. Our senses don't notice anything under this one point. For some, it takes many trials before a person actually feels the stimulation.

Difference Threshold

The change in a stimulus great enough for our brain to realize that it has changed. We have to be able to notice the change half of the time. For example, our senses notice a difference when we turn up the volume of sound very quickly, but if the volume is increased just a little, it is possible we won't notice. It is different for everyone. Also known as the Just Noticeable Difference (barely feeling or noticing a stimulation)

In Your Own Words

  • What you take in from the five senses (touch, sight, taste, hear, and smell).


  • Sensation
  • When you smell something from your kitchen, the action of smelling is the sensation.
  • When you taste food, the action of tasting is the sensation.
  • When you hear someone scream, the action of hearing is the sensation.
  • When you feel a prickly cactus with your fingers, the action of feeling is the sensation.
  • If you punch an object (like a wall), then the sensation is the pain in your hand.
  • When standing outside the stadium, waiting to watch a football game (or other sports competition), the smell of hot dogs and popcorn fill your nose. The fact that you can smell the food is sensation.
  • When you are watching a basketball game, watching is the sensation.
  • If you go outside barefoot on a snowy day, your sensation would be a cold feeling.
  • When you go outside on a fall day, your sensation is seeing the color change in the leaves.
  • When it starts to rain, the sensation is smelling everything around you because of the rain.


Additional Resources