AP Psychology : Sensory Organs and Mechanisms

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Although you wear glasses throughout the day, you don't contantly notice them on your face, on the bridge of your nose, or on the tops of your ears. Why is this? 

Possible Answers:

Selective neural firing

Sensory adaptation

Long term potentiation

Your memory has a way to process unpleasant stimuli and repress them

If you had to notice all the time, it would be impossible to wear glasses

Correct answer:

Sensory adaptation

Explanation:

Over time, a constant stimulus in the environment evokes less and less of a response from one's sensory system. Sensory neurons respond at first to these stimuli, but over time they stop responding in order to focus attention on other stimuli in the environment. 

Example Question #2 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

What types of retinal cells allow us to perceive color?

Possible Answers:

Bipolar neurons

Sympathetic ganglion

Cones

Rods

Parasympathetic ganglion

Correct answer:

Cones

Explanation:

The human retina has two types of cells that respond to light: cones and rods. Rods are more numerous, but can only detect light and dark shades. Cones respond to different wavelenghts of light, and can thus transmit color information. They are highly concentrated in the fovea of the retina.

Example Question #3 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Which term refers to the part of a visual field that has no photoreceptors, and thus cannot detect images?

Possible Answers:

Optic disk

Fovea centralis

Black spot

Retina

Iris

Correct answer:

Optic disk

Explanation:

Every visual field has a blind spot, where there are no rods and cones (known as photoreceptors) to detect external images. Our brain uses context clues from the environment to help fill in this blind spot to make a complete picture. The blind spot is located on the optic disk, which is the location where the optic nerve exits the back of the eye. Due to the nerve tissue in this spot, there are no photoreceptors to detect input.

In contrast, the fovea centralis is the region of the retina with the highest concentration of cones.

Example Question #4 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

What is the colored part of the eye called?

Possible Answers:

The iris

The ciliary muscle

The retina

The lash

The ocular lens

Correct answer:

The iris

Explanation:

The iris is a ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored part of the eye. Additionally, the iris controls the size of the pupil opening, and thus controls how much light enters the eye.

Example Question #5 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

During the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development, which of the following occurs?

Possible Answers:

The child leans to use language

The child begins to think logically

The child develops the ability to think about abstract concepts

The child's behaviors are limited to musculoskeletal responses caused by the nervous system

The child begins to form words using their facial muscles and vocal cords

Correct answer:

The child's behaviors are limited to musculoskeletal responses caused by the nervous system

Explanation:

The stages of cognitive development, according to Jean Piaget, are the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. During the sensorimotor stage, the period between birth and age two, cognitive development is limited to motor responses caused by sensory stimuli.

Between ages two and six—the preoperational stage—the child learns to use language. Between ages seven and eleven—the concrete operational stage—children begin thinking logically. During the formal operational stage, age twelve through adulthood, people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts such as deductive reasoning. 

Example Question #6 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Which part of the ear has tiny bones that concentrate vibrations from the eardrum?

Possible Answers:

The cochlea

The inner ear

The oval window

The square window

The middle ear

Correct answer:

The middle ear

Explanation:

The middle ear contains three tiny bones: the malleus (hammer), the incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup). These bones concentrate the vibrations coming from the eardrum, and send these signals to the cochlea's oval window.

Each region of the ear uses a different medium to transmit vibrations. Remember that the outer ear uses air as the medium (sound waves impact the ear drum). The middle ear uses bones to transmit these vibrations to the oval window. Finally, the inner ear uses fluid found in the cochlea to transmit the vibrations to neural tissue.

Example Question #7 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Where in the eye are photoreceptors located?

Possible Answers:

Retina

Lens

Sclera

Cornea

Pupil

Correct answer:

Retina

Explanation:

The retina contains the rods and the cones, which are sensitive to light that enters through the pupil. Rods are able to detect shades of dark and light, while cones are able to detect color. When light strikes these cells, it is converted into electrical neural impulses that are transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain.

Example Question #8 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

A lack of which of the following neurotransmitters is most likely to cause clinical depression?

Possible Answers:

Adrenaline

Serotonin

Endorphins

​Acetylcholine

Dopamine

Correct answer:

Serotonin

Explanation:

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is most responsible for mood control. Therefore, a lack of serotonin would likely result in clinical depression, a mood disorder.

Example Question #9 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Which of the following types of cells are not located in the eye?

Possible Answers:

Retinal cells

Olfactory cells

Rods and cones

Bipolar cells

Ganglion cells

Correct answer:

Olfactory cells

Explanation:

Olfactory cells are receptors involved with our sense of smell, while the other answer choices are all related to vision, and are located in the eye. 

Example Question #10 : Sensory Organs And Mechanisms

Which of the following is one of the oldest theories about how and why humans see in color?

Possible Answers:

Place theory

Frequency theory

Trichromatic theory

Dichromatic theory

Trichronological theory

Correct answer:

Trichromatic theory

Explanation:

The trichromatic theory is one of the oldest theories about why and how humans see in color and it states that there are three types of cones in the retina that can detect the three colors (hence trichromatic) of blue, green, and red. 

As for the other answers, dichromatic theory and trichronological theory don't exist; they just sound similar to the correct answer. Place theory and frequency theory are theories about audition rather than vision. Place theory states that ear hairs respond to different frequencies based on their different locations in the cochlea, and frequency theory states that pitch is perceived by the rate at which hair cells fire. 

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