Deutsch: Wahrnehmung / Español: Percepción / Português: Percepção / Français: Perception / Italian: Percezione

Sensing in the psychology context refers to the process by which individuals detect and respond to external stimuli through their sensory organs. This process involves the reception, transmission, and interpretation of sensory information, which forms the basis for perception and interaction with the environment.


In psychology, sensing is a fundamental aspect of how humans and other organisms interact with their surroundings. It encompasses the detection of stimuli through the five primary senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Each of these senses involves specialized sensory receptors that convert physical stimuli into neural signals, which are then processed by the brain to form perceptions.

Sensing is the initial stage of information processing in the sensory system. It is distinct from perception, which involves organizing and interpreting the sensory information to understand and respond to the environment. While sensing refers to the raw data input from the sensory organs, perception involves higher-level cognitive processes that give meaning to these sensory inputs.

For instance, sensing a sound involves the auditory receptors in the ears detecting sound waves and converting them into neural signals. Perception, on the other hand, involves recognizing the sound as music, speech, or noise and understanding its significance or source.

Special: Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is the mechanism by which the brain organizes and interprets sensory information. It involves several steps:

  1. Reception: Sensory organs receive stimuli from the environment.
  2. Transduction: Sensory receptors convert the physical stimuli into neural signals.
  3. Transmission: Neural signals are transmitted to the brain via sensory pathways.
  4. Perception: The brain processes and interprets the signals to create meaningful experiences.

Application Areas

Understanding sensing is crucial in various fields within psychology and beyond, including:

  1. Cognitive Psychology: Studying how sensory information is processed and integrated to form perceptions.
  2. Developmental Psychology: Examining how sensory abilities develop and change over the lifespan.
  3. Clinical Psychology: Addressing sensory processing disorders and their impact on behaviour and mental health.
  4. Neuropsychology: Investigating the neural mechanisms underlying sensory processing and perception.
  5. Human Factors and Ergonomics: Designing environments and tools that accommodate human sensory capabilities.

Well-Known Examples

  1. Visual Perception: The process by which the eyes detect light and colour, enabling the brain to recognize shapes, objects, and spatial relationships.
  2. Auditory Perception: The detection of sound waves, allowing for the recognition of speech, music, and environmental sounds.
  3. Gustatory Perception: The sense of taste, which involves detecting flavours through taste buds on the tongue.
  4. Olfactory Perception: The sense of smell, which involves detecting airborne chemicals through receptors in the nasal cavity.
  5. Tactile Perception: The sense of touch, involving the detection of pressure, temperature, and pain through receptors in the skin.

Treatment and Risks

While sensing is a natural and generally reliable process, it can be affected by various factors, leading to sensory processing issues:

  1. Sensory Processing Disorders: Conditions where sensory information is not processed properly, causing difficulties in daily functioning.
  2. Sensory Deprivation: Lack of sensory stimulation can lead to deficits in perception and cognitive functioning.
  3. Overstimulation: Excessive sensory input can cause stress and discomfort, impacting mental health.

Symptoms, Therapy, and Healing


  • Difficulty interpreting sensory information accurately.
  • Overreaction or underreaction to sensory stimuli.
  • Challenges in coordinating sensory input with motor responses.


  • Occupational Therapy: Helps individuals manage sensory processing disorders by developing coping strategies and adaptive techniques.
  • Sensory Integration Therapy: Designed to improve the brain's ability to process and integrate sensory information.
  • Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT): Can help individuals manage the emotional and behavioural impacts of sensory processing issues.


  • Environmental Adjustments: Modifying surroundings to reduce sensory overload or provide necessary stimulation.
  • Regular Sensory Activities: Engaging in activities that provide balanced sensory input to support processing and integration.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Helps manage sensory overload and improve focus.

Similar Terms

  • Perception: The process of organizing and interpreting sensory information to create meaningful experiences.
  • Sensory Processing: The entire sequence of receiving, transducing, transmitting, and interpreting sensory stimuli.
  • Sensory Integration: The ability of the brain to process and combine information from different senses to understand the environment.
  • Stimulus: Any external factor that can be detected by the sensory organs and trigger a sensory response.


In the psychology context, sensing refers to the process of detecting and responding to external stimuli through the sensory organs. It is the foundational stage of sensory processing, leading to perception. Understanding sensing is crucial in various psychological fields, including cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, and neuropsychology, as it affects how individuals interact with and interpret their environment. Effective management of sensory processing issues through therapy and environmental adjustments can significantly improve quality of life.