Brain and Behavior

Sensation and Perception

How does the brain process perception?

It is important to understand that the brain does not work like a camera, simply photographing outside reality. As mentioned above, the brain constructs its own version of reality by constructing a map of the world around it. In the primary sensory cortices, neurons respond to patterns of stimulation, for example, with cells that fire in response to horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines. This information is then sent to the association cortices, where the firing patterns of the different cells are coordinated with each other to establish a broader pattern. When this information is sent to the parts of the brain associated with memory, language, and emotion, we are both able to recognize and label an object as well as appreciate what meaning it might have for us. In this way, the brain constructs an interpretation or map of reality that is deeply connected to our personal experience and history.


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