During every waking moment, we receive millions of stimuli, bits of information from the world around us and the world within that the brain processes to make meaning. Perception is the process of organising selected information into meaningful patterns.
Because it is impossible to observe, many theorists define consciousness in terms of what it does. It is thus necessary to explore the status of awareness and perception. In this discussion of perception, we will not focus on the biological mechanism of the visual or auditory senses, although some psychologists rightfully concern themselves with this area. We are concerned here with how perception and awareness are involved in the activity of consciousness -an individual’s way of viewing the world. Our view of perception is not a static view for it concerns the more complicated activity of our consciousness, which involves a great deal of hypothesis-testing. The meaning of a stimulus is not in the stimulus itself but resides in the relevance which it is given by the receiver of the stimulus. For instance, if someone brought us food to encourage us to study harder, the food might not be a positive reinforcement if we dislike the food, or we could see the food as a distraction.
Perception – The process by which the brain receives information about the world through the sense organs. This information is used to help the organism make sense of their environment.
Consider our bodies moving about in our environment. We are constantly bombarded by a range of sensory stimuli, from the traffic outside to the baby crying next door, to the hunger pains in the stomach. We cannot take everything in, but instead, employ a measure of selective perception, seeing and hearing what we choose. The perceptual focussing might be referred to as attention or awareness.