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Auditory and visual systems have received more attention from psychologists than any other senses. Perhaps this is due to the fact that audition and vision are the earliest objective sources of knowledge about the outside environment. For acquiring relevant information from the outside world, the visual and auditory modalities are the most important of the five sense modalities (Weiten 163). In contrast, the olfactory and gustatory systems have received less attention. This is possibly due to the fact that taste, smell, and touch are the sources of our subjective knowledge. Nonetheless, each of the five senses has some sensitive cells that respond to a mechanical input. The senses of hearing, sight touch, smell and taste all obtain energy from the environment, which is transformed into neural energy or sensation. The brain processes this sensation into perception. These senses are reproduced under the influence of the sensor. In the sensor development history, the sensors responsible for receptor parts of touch, hearing, and sight have been developed for various applications. By comparison, the sensors responsible for taste and smell have been proposed most recently despite their great demand in environmental protection and food industry.
Visual perception and auditory perception are considered non-contact senses in that percipients need no direct contact with what the eyes can see or ears hear. The visual and auditory modalities enable the percipient to overcome distance than smell and touch and taste. In chemical and bodily sense, perception is achieved when there is direct contact between the object and the percipient.
Audition and vision are both long distant, external perceptual systems. By contrast, olfactory, gestation and somatosensation are short range, perceptual systems. Like in audition and vision, the percipient can locate the direction and source of stimulus in olfactory system (Toko ix). Moreover, the smell is classified together with vision and audition as non-contact senses. This is because the all the three senses do not need contact. The sense of smell can signal the presence of an object placed at a distance from a perceiver. However, olfactory perception varies from odor to odor on the basis of the source of odor, percipient's age, the distance between the object and percipient and the odorous molecule's concentration level (Korsmeyer 28).
While the visual system involves electromagnetic wave and the auditory system uses air pressure, they both share a physical stimulus called wave-phenomenon. While all the senses involve mental processing, body and chemical senses tend to involve less of the mental processing. In hearing and sight, physical energy hits sensory receptors but in taste and smell, molecular substances are sampled.
Hearing and sight display double dissociation. This dissociation manifests between the senses that doubly determine the same object. For example, human can hear and see the same object simultaneously. They can also hear objects without seeing or see without hearing. This property makes hearing and sight very distinct senses (Toko ix). The same cannot be said of body and chemical senses. Taste and smell obviously do not display double dissociation in. while one can taste an object without smelling, it is less clear whether the two senses depend on each other. Senses of heating and sight respond to single physical quantities such as sound and light respectively. Thus the target in creating sensors for sight and hearing can be high selectivity for the quantity concerned. By contrast, many types of "chemical substances must be assessed at once for smell and taste to be transformed into meaningful quantities to describe these senses"(Toko ix).
Sight and hearing operate with a distance between the organ of perception and the object, and as a result, they work to divert attention away from the body to the object of perception. By contrast, the senses of smelling and taste are experienced as in the body, locatable in the mouth, fingertips, and the skin. Both taste and smell are experienced inexplicably in the percipient's body even though the extent of subjectivity of bodily sensations tends to vary widely (Toko ix). For example, smells are locatable in odor objects, pains reside in the body while tastes appear in between. Despite these differences, hearing and sight remain phenomenally objective.
The senses of hearing and sight are by far the widely used to objectively explain what we perceive. Smell and taste cannot be construed the same way as to the stimulus for vision and hearing. Simply put, what the senses of hearing and sight learn revolve around the world located outside the percipient body. However, the body does influence the information received. Judgments concerning the objects of hearing and sight are always relative to the position and perspective of the percipient.
The information supplied by hearing and sight provides reflection and abstraction that produces knowledge of universals. Since attention is aimed outward as opposed to towards a specific body part "the mind is disposed to generalize about its objects" (Korsmeyer 28). The objects may be assigned number and their objective qualities summarized in categories. By comparison, bodily and chemical senses deliver information is that is particular or specific (Korsmeyer 28).
The basic principles behind sight and visual object perception are applicable to smell object perception. Just like visual and auditory systems, olfactory and gustatory systems are optimized to encode objects that are experienced in the real life. However, chemical senses like olfactory appear to salient due to their relationship to appetite.
Images can be considered as mental representations constructed with the following olfactory, auditory, gustatory and visual sensory modalities. Images are constructed when people are exposed to feelings, events, objects and persons, and when humans recollect all of these from memory. The imagery of olfactory and gustatory information share several features with imagery of auditory and visual information. Visual imagery is dependent on the knowledge that the eyes receive. Individuals with strong visual imagery tend to recall visual experiences and events for relatively long period of time (Larsson 51). With gustatory imagery, taste can be experience without the involvement of external stimulus. Olfactory refers to imagery of smell. Multidimensional scaling studies have found that visual perception corresponds to imagery as far as judgment of shapes is concerned. In the olfactory realm, Sugiyama et al (1702) found correspondence for intensity and pleasantness being established between imagery and olfactory perception. In patient studies, manifestations of olfactory, auditory and visual hallucinations have been witnessed for many conditions (Stevenson and Case 80). While olfactory imageries share a lot of features with auditory and visual imageries, the capacity of olfactory to form images varies from the ones observed in visual imagery.
Taste and smell have a special association wherein their combinations offer a special perception known as flavor. This association tends to be similar to the vision-auditory relationship (Wilson 130).
This paper has compared auditory and visual systems with chemical and bodily senses. From the aforementioned discussion, it is clear that the senses of hearing and sight dominate because there is the first source of objective information also because they are able to overcome greater distance. Nevertheless, all the sense share many features in common. For example, they detect and response to stimuli. Moreover, the basic principles behind sight and visual object perception are applicable to smell object perception
Arshamian, Artin and Maria Larson. Same but different: the case of olfactory imagery. Pront Psychology: 5(2014):34-40
Korsmeyer, Carolyn. Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University, 2002
Stevenson Richard J., Trevor Case and Melmet Mahmut . Difficulty in evoking odor images: the role of odor naming. Memory and Cognition, 35(2007): 578-589
Sugiyama Haruko, Saho Ayabe-Kanamura and Tadashi Kikuchi. Are olfactory images sensory in nature? Perception 35(2006): 1699-1708
Toko, Kiyoshi. Biomimetic Sensor Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge university Press; 2004.
Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2013.
Wilson, Donald A, and Richard J. Stevenson. Learning to Smell: Olfactory Perception from Neurobiology to Behavior. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Print.
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