How do the five senses impact perception?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perception is based on the interpretation of signals sent to the brain by the five senses. Each sense -- touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing -- affects how we react to the world and how we interpret events around us. The senses can alter a memory; if someone meets a person at the same time as experiencing a bad smell, it is likely that those memories will join together and each will associate with the other in the mind, even if they are not related.

Another issue is that of sense impairment. If a person is deaf, they cannot perceive the world in the same way as someone who is not. Their perception is not inferior, just different; they can see a musician, but cannot hear the music, and so can't make an interpretation based on that particular aspect. Similarly, if a person has no sense of smell, they might be happy working in an environment where the smell is negative to most people; however, they might also not notice if their personal smell is negative, and so their perception of others may be affected.

Finally, the senses form the only real connection to the outside, objective reality that people have. If a person had none of the five senses, and no way to know if he was communicating with others -- indeed, no way to know that there are others to begin with -- how can there be personal perception of the outside world? Science has made great strides in communication with people who seem to be disconnected with reality; it remains to be seen if the senses can truly be simulated.

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