Sensation & Perception

You bet that’s the title of the chapter I’m reading right now in my textbook. Straight up plagiarized. My head has been so immersed in this class that all I’ve been able to do is APPLY what I’ve been learning to my current life/situation. Let me tell you – it’s been fucking ENLIGHTENING.

The more I learn about the intricate details of how our brain functions, the more I come to learn about myself. So congratulations Mr. Richard A. Griggs (author of my text-book), you have now become the THIRD person in my corner supporting my mental health. I think I officially have my own “staff.”

The second week of class we focused on research. BORING. Don’t take that the wrong way. I love experiments. We learn from experimenting. But learning all the different ways we collect research and how we describe data was a snooze. I can’t believe I retained enough information to pass that test. Seriously.

The third week so far has been the most exciting. NEUROSCIENCE. I may have found my calling. I’ve been entertaining nursing school for several years now. But if you know me, you know I am happiest when I am running the show. What does that mean? It means I’m an entrepreneur. To the FULLEST extent. I THRIVE building a business. Ask any of my clients. The majority of them have been with me for several years now and will not seek care anywhere else (unless I move or die, whichever comes first). Learning the anatomy of our brain, what it does what and why. Learning about the endocrine glandular system. It’s all so freaking badass. Our bodies are truly amazing. Yes, I believe in science. Yes, I believe in (certain parts) of evolution. But how can you look at our biological make-up and not believe something put you together? IT BLOWS MY MIND.

This week has been all about Sensation & Perception.

  • Sensation being described as: Initial information gathering & recoding by the sensory structures (vision, hearing, feeling, smelling & tasting).
  • Perception being described as: The interpretation by the brain of sensory information.

Sure, there has been the anatomy behind our vision/hearing to create the foundation for the sensory perception. But what I have found to be the most interesting part of this chapter is this bit about top-down processing.

What is top-down processing?

Glad you asked.

Let me explain…

(fml, let my eyes adjust, I turned the lights off and all I have is this weak LED lamp in the corner producing dim light — which btw, if you didn’t know, is processed by the rods in our retinas – there are an estimated 120 MILLION rods that are in EACH of your retinas! And they take about 20min to adjust to dim light, compared to the cones in your eyes which take about 5-10min to adjust. But they’re responsible for how we see color and bright light – and there’s only 6 MILLION in your retinas. Food for thought.)

Top-Down Processing – The brain’s use of knowledge, beliefs & expectations to process sensory information. [Neurons in the temporal lobe (the front part of your brain) PERMANENTLY ALTER┬átheir connections once they find a meaningful pattern!)

I took this to mean that our past predicts our future. Or at least, in the sensory realm. Our reality really is a figment of our educated imagination. Our brain is so smart, that we can do something called “Gestalt Organized Perception” = “organized whole” –> more than just the sum of all parts. This means that when we see an incomplete image, we draw (through top-down processing) from our past to create the whole picture. Pretty neat, right?


Jackie – wait a second. You mean that our past experiences, what we’ve learned over our years, our beliefs, and acquired knowledge provide us the ability to see the big picture?


I’m not saying that at all, so calm the fuck down.

If you believe in the “perceptual set” – then you believe that the interpretation of ambiguous sensory information is done using past experiences to create our perception.

[There is also the “contextual effect” which is the use of present context of sensory information to determine the meaning of objects/things/etc.]

Why is this so impactful for me? Why am I claiming that the author of this book has recently become another member of my staff?

Well, dear readers, allow me to tell you.

Recent events lead me to believe I fall (FREQUENTLY) , head over heels with the perceptual set. Everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and feel draws from my past experiences. I have a seriously hard time with “contextual effect.” Being in the present (with all senses), is CHALLENGING for me. However, the exciting part about this is learning the actual term for it and discovering this is actually a REAL thing. AH-HA!

If I were to record everything I say/hear/do in a 24hr period of time, I would find that the majority of it comes from KNOWN securities (whether insecurities or self-confidences).

There is a reason it’s so much easier for me to establish and nurture friendships with women than romantic relationships with men. There is a reason I find comfort in communicating with my girlfriends than opening up to men. There is a reason I don’t over analyze my interactions with women and do with men.

Even though the (female) friendships I have made haven’t always been rainbows and butterflies. There has always been mutual respect, humility, and the ability to overcome obstacles. I find security in my evolving relationships with women. There’s some kind of safety to it. You find people you like, who inspire you, and you stick together.

Men on the other hand – there seems to be this little voice in the back of my head that says, “your only desirable quality is your body.” Maybe I’ve read too many bull-shit magazine articles and books that have somehow drilled this into my head. OR MAYBE I have tried to break down that wall every so often and been met with serious resistance. I’m talking either ghosting or just a straight up douche who thinks he’s better than me.

I’m not saying I’m better than them. But what I can say is that I am BRUTALLY honest, unafraid, and secure in who I am at this point in my life. When I date, I tell them exactly who I am and what I want. Maybe this is a little intimidating. But you know what, the right guy wont be intimidated by me, because he’s secure enough in himself that he will find my ambition and spice for life inspiring.

So THANK YOU, chapter 3 – for breaking down ONE SMALL PIECE of the pie into why I am the way I am.


Until next time,



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Single, 30-something, badass girlboss, Seattle, works too much and trying to figure out how to survive in this world.