Brain and Behavior

Sensation and Perception

How does the brain process sensory information?

Our initial sensory information comes from physical stimulation from the outside world. This might come in the form of light waves or sound waves or physical pressure against our skin. This information is picked up by our sense organs, for example our eyes, ears, nose, skin, or tongue. Our sense organs then relay this information to the primary sensory cortices via the thalamus. The thalamus acts as a gating station, blocking information it identifies as unimportant and passing on information it deems important. This is true for all our senses except the sense of smell (olfaction) which goes directly to the olfactory bulb, bypassing the thalamus and the cortex. The primary visual cortex is in the occipital lobe, the primary auditory (hearing) cortex is in the temporal lobe, and the primary sensory cortex (for touch and taste) is in the parietal lobe. The primary sensory cortex is known as the somatosensory strip.


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