Perception INTRODUCTION Perception is defined as a process by which organisms interpret and organize sensation to produce a meaningful experience of the world. Sensation usually refers to the immediate, relatively unprocessed result of stimulation of sensory receptors in the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, or skin. Perception, on the other hand, better describes one's ultimate experience of the world and typically involves further processing of sensory input. In practice, sensation and perception are virtually impossible to separate, because they are part of one continuous process. Our sense organs translate physical energy from the environment into electrical impulses processed by the brain. For example, light, in the form of electromagnetic radiation, causes receptor cells in our eyes to activate and send signals to the brain. But we do not understand these signals as pure energy. The process of perception allows us to interpret them as objects, events, people, and situations. Without the ability to organize and interpret sensations, life would seem like a meaningless jumble of colors, shapes, and sounds. A person without any perceptual ability would not be able to recognize faces, understand language, or avoid threats. Such a person would not survive for long. In fact, many species of animals have evolved exquisite sensory and perceptual systems that aid their survival. PRINCIPLES OF PERCEPTUAL ORGANIZATION Organizing raw sensory stimuli into meaningful experiences involves cognition, a set of mental activities that includes thinking, knowing, and remembering. Knowledge and experience are extremely important for perception, because they help us make sense of the input to our sensory systems. You could probably read the text, but not as easily as when you read letters in their usual orientation. Knowledge and experience allowed you to understand the text. You could read the words because of your knowledge of letter shapes, and maybe you even have some prior experience in reading text upside down.