What Is a Perceptual Process?

The perceptual process is the method by which humans take information, or stimuli, from the environment and create meaning or reaction to the stimuli. Perceptual process is a continual function of the brain. People may not be aware of the actual steps of the process because it is automatic and instantaneous.

There are eight steps to the perceptual process: environmental stimuli, attended stimuli, retinal image, transduction, neural processing, perception, recognition and action. Environmental stimuli is anything outside of a person that might attract attention. Everything in the environment has the potential to be perceived through sight, taste, smell, hearing or touch. Attended stimulus is the single thing in the environment on which the person focuses. This could be a friend or relative in a crowded park, a branch on a tree or hearing a favorite song playing in a busy store. To form an image on the retina, light passes through the pupil and the cornea to the lens of the eye. The lens and the cornea work together to create the image on the retina. Transduction is the process by which the image is transmitted to the brain for interpretations. Neural process takes the stimuli, image, auditory or taste and creates a pathway for the electrical impulses created in transduction to travel to the brain. Perception is where the person becomes aware of the stimulus in the environment. Recognition occurs when the brain gives meaning to the stimulus. Action is the person’s resulting response to the stimulus, such as turning the head, laughing or waving.