The Function and Process of Perception

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The function and process of perception can vary depending on a particular state of consciousness. Normal waking consciousness is a mental state that encompasses the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that occur when we are awake and reasonably alert (Morris & Maisto, 2010, p.123). Since this state of mind expires after an amount of time, other forms of consciousness follow; whether naturally or self-induced. While sensory data is inevitable, the brain's interpretation and perception of such stimuli during an altered state of consciousness will differ from that of waking consciousness. This mini-paper will elaborate on the effects of perception, including its process and function, related to three altered states of consciousness. The first being sleep and dreams, next drug-altered consciousness, followed by hypnosis.

Before discussing the effects of perception while in an altered state, an overview of the basic function and process of perception in a normal setting is needed. Sensation is the body's initial encounter with a sensory experience. This begins when the sensory receptors receive energy from a particular stimulus, which trigger receptor cells. The physical energy is converted into electrochemicals, then passes along sensory nerves, to the central nervous system where the brain receives the energy as a detailed message. However, not all physical energy produces a sensation. A minimum intensity, termed absolute threshold, must be achieved in order to produce a sensation. Perception takes place when the message reaches the brain and is then deciphered. Here, the sensory information is organized and interpreted to be made sense of. Using sensory information as raw material, the brain creates perceptual experiences that go beyond what is sensed directly (Morris & Maisto, 2010, p. 106). Again, this is the series of events in the normal waking state of consciousness. During an altered state of consciousness the effect, process, and/or function of perception...
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