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Psychology Experiments

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Details: Conduct three of the following experiments and record your reactions. Be specific for each experiment.

Rub your index fingers gently over a piece of very coarse sandpaper a few times and rate its coarseness on a scale from 1 (very soft) to 7 (very coarse). After a minute or two, rub the same finger over the paper and again rate its coarseness. Did your perception of the coarseness change? How?

Distribute one cup with sugar water and one with fresh water. Take a sip of the sugar water and swish it around in your mouth for several seconds without swallowing it; gradually, it should taste less sweet. After swallowing it (or spitting it back into the cup), taste from the cup containing fresh water. Did the taste of the fresh water surprise you? How?

Take about 15 index cards and a flashlight that is opaque on all sides (so that light shines only through the front) into a very dark room. After placing all 15 cards over the beam of light, slowly remove the cards one at a time until you can barely detect the light, and then count the number of cards that remain over the light. After a few minutes, the light should begin to look brighter. When this is the case, add a card and see if you can still see the light. Repeat this process of gradually adding cards over a 15-minute period. Were you able to detect an increasingly dim light the longer you spent in the dark?

Fill 3 medium-sized bowls with (a) very hot (but not painfully so) tap water, (b) very cold tap water, and (c) a mixture of the very hot and very cold water. Arrange them, so your right hand is in front of the cold water, your left hand is in front of the hot water, and the lukewarm water is in the middle. Submerse your hands into the water (right into cold, left into hot) for about 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, quickly transfer both hands to the lukewarm (middle) bowl. What did you sense?

In all four experiments, you will experience adaptation.

Fully describe the process and results of each experiment.
What is adaptation? Explain adaptation as discussed in the text, not as a general dictionary definition.
Explain how adaptation is evident in each of your experimental results.
Comprehensively describe the sensory systems involved in these experiments, from the receptors all the way into and including the brain.

I need help with these questions. Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

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Solution Preview

Please see response attached (which is recommended), some of which is presented below. I hope this helps and take care.


Again, let's look at the three questions before we look at the three experiments that follow.

1. Fully describe the process and results of each experiment.

This is fairly easy and straightforward, after you have completed the experiment and recorded your results. You will explain the process for each experiment in the assignment (following the outline above), so it is just a matter of following the directions in each scenario, and then record the results. You are expected to conduct the experiment (you as the participant), and report the results and explain them in terms of adaptation.

Let's look at adaptation first (followed by the three experiments), although you are expected to use the definition in your text.

2. What is adaptation? Explain adaptation as discussed in the text, not as a general dictionary definition.

Sensory Adaptation: Generally speaking, we get used to things. This includes many things in life including smells, sounds, sights, games, people, and situations. Our brain has a way of adapting to the stimulus and, after a while, we seem to get used to everything. One reason we get used to everything is because of sensory adaptation, which is reduced sensitivity to stimulation that results from repeated presentations of that stimulation. http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition.cfm?term=Sensory%20Adaptation

For example, let's assume that you had your car in for service and the dealer gave you a rental to use while the car was being serviced. As soon as you got into the car, you were overwhelmed by the smell of smoke (even though you asked for a non-smoking car). It stunk! But after driving the car for 30 minutes or so, you didn't really notice the smell. You got used to it because you were immersed in it. You experienced sensory (smell) adaptation. In terms of brain physiology, for example, sensory adaptation is a phenomenon in which receptor cells lose their power to respond after a period of unchanged stimulation; allows a more rapid reaction to new sources of information. Thus, in the example above, sensory adaptation occurred and the receptor cells in your brain lost their power to respond to the smell of smoke after a period of unchanged stimulation; and allowed a more rapid reaction to new sources of information. http://psych.upenn.edu/backuslab/teaching/psyc739/ This is the type of explanation you are expected to give for three of the four experiments.

3. Why does sensory adaptation occur? The explanations vary widely: fatigue within sensory channels, "normalization" of responses, reconciliation of discrepant estimators, maximization of sensitivity, and maximization of internal signal informativeness are all candidate explanations. http://psych.upenn.edu/backuslab/teaching/psyc739/ Therefore, it is important to use the definition from your text, ...

Solution Summary

This solution assists with the psychology experiments on sensory adaptation.