AP Psychology : Stimulation and Detection

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Stimulation And Detection

When do action potentials occur?

Possible Answers:

When sodium ions enter the neuron to make the membrane potential more positive

When potassium ions exit the neuron to make the membrane potential more positive

When sodium ions exit the neuron to make the membrane potential more negative

When sodium ions exit the neuron to make the membrane potential more positive

When sodium ions enter the neuron to make the membrane potential more negative

Correct answer:

When sodium ions enter the neuron to make the membrane potential more positive

Explanation:

Action potentials are caused when different ions cross the neuron's membrane. The inside of the neuron becomes more positive due to the rush of sodium into the cell during depolarization. This raises the membrane potential from resting (roughly ) to the threshold level of about , which triggers the action potential and raises the membrane potential to roughly .

Following the action potential, potessium exits the neuron to reduce the membrane potential before the sodium-potassium pump restores the resting potential.

Example Question #2 : Stimulation And Detection

Gustatory receptors are sensitive to all of the following flavors except __________.

Possible Answers:

sweet

spicy

salty

umami

Correct answer:

spicy

Explanation:

The sensation of spiciness is not actually a taste, but a pain reaction. Chemicals in the food (such as capsaicin) trigger stimulation of free nerve endings in the mouth, resulting in the sensation of spiciness in the same way that the fibers would detect pain.

Sweet, salty, and umami are all tastes that gustatory receptors in the taste buds can recognize independently.

Example Question #3 : Sensation And Perception

Which method is commonly used in sleep research to detect brain waves?

Possible Answers:

RAM

PET scan

MRI

fMRI

EEG

Correct answer:

EEG

Explanation:

EEG (electroencephalogram) involves the placement of electrodes on a person's scalp to detect brain waves, specifically when the subject is asleep. 

Example Question #4 : Sensation And Perception

Where are rods and cones located in the eye?

Possible Answers:

The iris

The pupil

The medulla

The optic disc

The retina

Correct answer:

The retina

Explanation:

Rods (which detect black and white) and cones (which detect colors) are both located in the retina, which lines the back of the eye. After the rods and cones detect visual stimuli the information is relayed to the brain via the optic nerve, which exits the eye via the optic disc. There are no photoreceptors on the optic disc, resulting in our blind spot.

Example Question #5 : Sensation And Perception

What types of stimuli result in the creation of echoic memories?

Possible Answers:

Tactile

Sensorimotor

Taste

Visual

Auditory

Correct answer:

Auditory

Explanation:

An echoic memory is a momentary, sensory memory of auditory stimuli that lasts for only a couple of seconds. This form of sensory memory may be forgotten or sent to our long-term memory for further encoding. 

Example Question #3 : Stimulation And Detection

Which concept is exemplified by being able to distinguish a slight change in light when a dimmer is used to adjust the brightness?

Possible Answers:

Sensory adaptation

Signal detection theory

Difference threshold

Transduction

Absolute threshold

Correct answer:

Difference threshold

Explanation:

The just-noticeable difference is the minimal change that can occur in a stimulus to just barely be detected by the observer. In this case, the stimulus is the brightness of light. 

As for the other answer choices, the absolute threshold is the minimal intensity at which a stimulus can just barely be detected. This concept is similar to the just-noticeable difference but has to do with detection of existence, rather than detection of change. Sensory adaptation refers to how an observer becomes less sensitive to a stimulus over time. Signal detection states that an observer's response to a stimulus depends on both their sensitivity and their decision criterion. Transduction is the process of physical signals being converted to neural signals. 

Example Question #7 : Sensation And Perception

What are the building blocks of the nervous system?

Possible Answers:

Hepatocytes

Neurons

Myocytes

Enterocytes

Glial cells

Correct answer:

Neurons

Explanation:

Neurons are specialized cells that transmit nerve signals. These cells make up the nervous system, and consist of an axon (sends nerve impulses to other neurons), dendrites (receive nerve impulses from other neurons), and soma ( the cell body of the neuron).

Glial cells are considered part of the nervous system as well, but do not represent the fundamental functional unit. Instead, glial cells supply support and nourishment to neurons.

Example Question #4 : Stimulation And Detection

Ps_ch_lo_y is ve_y i_ter_st_ng!

Fairly quickly, you can fill in the blanks above to read "Psychology is very interesting!" Which of the following describes your ability to perceive the meaning of the incomplete sentence?

Possible Answers:

Perceptual constancy

Signal detection theory

Bottom-up processing

Top-down processing

Correct answer:

Top-down processing

Explanation:

Top-down processing uses larger context to assume smaller bits of missing information. Bottom-up processing is the opposite - using small bits of information to understand a bigger picture. Signal detection theory is the ability to choose between and identify stimuli. Perceptual constancy refers to the tendency in humans to see familiar things as having similar shapes, colors, and sizes, in spite of changes that may have occurred in that object.

Example Question #9 : Sensation And Perception

What cells in the eye transduce light waves into neural impulses so that the brain can process the visual information?

Possible Answers:

rods and cones

primary visual cortex

bipolar cells

fovea

Correct answer:

rods and cones

Explanation:

Rods and cones are the light-sensitive receptor cells that are responsible for transducing light waves into neural impulses. 

Example Question #10 : Sensation And Perception

Artists often use monocular depth cues to give illusions of depth to their paintings. Which of the following is not a monocular depth cue?

Possible Answers:

autokinetic illusion

relative size

interposition

shadow or shading

Correct answer:

autokinetic illusion

Explanation:

Autokinetic illusion is when a single unmoving light in a dark room appears to move when stared at for several seconds. It is not a monocular depth clue.

Interposition refers to the monocular depth clue indicating an objects relative closeness by seeing whether that object is stacked on top of an object, or whether an object is stacked on it.

Relative size refers to objects farther away appearing smaller.

Shadow (or shading) refers to closer objects reflecting more light, and thus appearing less dark, than objects further away.

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