What Is the Relationship Between Sensation and Perception?

While sensation is the process of sensory input arriving at the cerebral cortex, perception is the brain making sense of this input. Perception is an experience that is unique to each individual, whereas the initial input of sensation is usually the same for all people.

Although it is difficult to absolutely define the relationship between sensation and perception, it does have the following characteristics:

Sensation can be input from the outside world

Sensations arise when something outside the body stimulates a reaction. For example, if someone walks past a restaurant, its aromas stimulate the olfactory senses. This is a sensation.

Some sensations come from the body itself

In some cases, sensations arise inside the body. For example, when something disrupts the digestive system’s normal functioning, it is likely to send pain sensations to the brain.

Perception is how the brain interprets the sensation

Once the brain receives incoming information, perception begins. Each person may therefore make sense of sensations in different ways. For example, while some people love the smell of bacon cooking, others do not. Therefore, some perceive it as pleasurable, whereas others see it as repugnant. With regards to pain, perceptions can vary in terms of how powerful the person perceives the pain to be.