Perceptual Adaptation is a creative mind’s greatest weakness. In this article, we’re going to look at what Perceptual Adaptation is and why helps to explain why you keep making mistakes at work.
- What is Perceptual Adaptation?
- Where is Perceptual Adaptation?
- What is the samoatosensory system
- What are chemoreceptors?
- What are nocicrecptors?
- What are mechanoreceptors?
- Perception Adaptation examples
- Where in the brain does Prception Adaptation happen?
- How fast is Perception Adaptation?
What is Perceptual Adaptation?
People are complicated, each with their own distinct flaws and talents and sins. It’s our defects and life experiences that shape us into the people we are today and the person we will become.
Yet despite our failures and various defects being a distinct part of who we are, we refuse to acknowledge their importance in ourselves and in others.
We terrify people into worshipping an image of perfection and consider anything less as inferior- This is not good for the world or the workplace.
We have to take seriously the notion that we will make mistakes and that it’s good for personal growth. The trick is to understand why we make them and how we can avoid making them again. It’s our responsibility because we can only live on our wits and our balls for so long.
If you have a creative mind and role in the workplace, then you become accustomed to making mistakes. It’s a part of the design process to have multiple edits, designs and concepts; each with its successes and failures. They’re merely one step closer to achieving the final design.
And that’s the thing about the creative mind: regardless of how long we spend writing a piece of content or designing a creative, we somehow miss glaring mistakes that others identify in the blink of an eye.
The reason is Perceptual Adaptation and there’s not a pig’s eyes chance of stopping it.
What is Perceptual Adaptation?
Perceptual Adaptation is a psychological affliction that helps us human meat bags to adapt to new things and ignore distractions. Everyone has it and it’s possibly happening to me now.
It strikes without warning and bores a hole the size of a tennis ball into our skulls. Perceptual Adaptation holds our subconscious at gunpoint and forces it to tell our conscious mind to ignore the messy little details that “distract us from our grander vision“.
Therefore why you keep making mistakes at work is as much to do with biology as it is anything else. They will happen and they’re unavoidable.
It’s worth spending a few minutes to cover a few important terminologies that are associated with Perceptual Adaptation.
Where is perceptual adaptation?
Perceptual adaptation happens in the somatosensory system which contains thermoreceptors, mechanoreceptors, nociceptors and chemoreceptors.
What is the somatosensory system?
The somatosensory system is the part of the sensory system that handles conscious perception of touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, movement, and vibration, which is sensed by muscles, joints, skin, and bone.
What are chemoreceptors?
Chemoreceptors are sensors that detect changes in CO2, O2, and pH based on anatomical location.
What are nociceptors sensitive to?
A nociceptor is a sensory neuron that is sensitive to pain. Any damage or potentially damaging stimuli send signals to the spinal cord and then to the brain.
Pain messages are two-way traffic. Inhibitory effects are achieved through the descending pathways, which reach from the conscious brain down to the gates in the subconscious brain and the spinal cord.
The reason for this is that the gates are places where the flow of pain messages can be controlled or influenced (Wells & Nown 1998).
By sending responses back to the periphery, the brain can be ordered to release chemicals that have analgesic effects to reduce or inhibit pain sensation.
Pain generally starts with a physical event; a cut, burn, tear, or bump.
The sensation of pain usually depends on the activation of a set of neurons that includes primary afferent nociceptors, interneurons in the spinal cord, cells of the ascending tracts, thalamic neurons and neurons of the cerebral cortex.
Hence, the pain system involves a set of ascending pathways that convey nociceptive information from peripheral nociceptors to higher levels of the central nervous system, as well as descending pathways that modulate that information (Bromm & Desmedth, 1995).
The term nociception refers to the process by which pain information is carried from the periphery sense receptors in the skin and in the viscera to the cerebral cortex through a network of neuronal relays (Karoly & Jensen 1987).
Exteroceptors on the body surface and proprioceptors within the body are specialized neurons that receive stimulation; mechanical (e.g. pressure), chemical, electrical, or thermal (i.e. hot-cold sensitive).
The body is equipped with mechanical nociceptors at the periphery (so-called first-order neurons), which project to second-order neurons in the spinal cord and medulla, which then carries the sensory information (in the form of electrical impulse) to the thalamus, where it synapses with third-order neurons that transmit the impulse to the cortex.
Second-order neurons send their sensory inputs to the thalamus via two ascending pathways: the dorsal column medial-lemniscal system and the anterolateral system (includes the spinothalamic, spinoreticular, and spinotectal fibres).
The former transmits impulses involving position sense, touch, and pressure. The latter pathway is involved in pain transmission (Karoly & Jensen 1987).
The spinal cord is the central concourse along which all pain messages travels to and from the brain.
For example, when you stub your toe and your peripheral nerves register alarm, this acute pain is immediately relayed along the nerve fibres of your foot and leg to the substantia gelatinosa located within the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.
The cells in the substantia gelatinosa relay this “fast pain” message along the neospinothalamic and terminating in the thalamus and the cortex. The cortex is the region in which thoughts are processed.
In contrast, chronic pain moves along a different and slower tract, called the paleospinothalamic tract.
This “slow pain” is generally dull, aching, burning, and cramping.
Slow pain follows the same path as fast pain through the spinal cord, but once in the brain, it separates and terminates in the hypothalamus and the limbic structures.
The hypothalamus is responsible for stimulating the release of stress hormones. The limbic structures are the places where emotions are processed.
Just as there is an ascending pain pathway from the body to the brain, there is a descending pathway that allows the brain to modulate pain sensory.
The brain uses this pathway to send chemical substances and nerve impulses back down to the cells in the spinal cord to act against the pain message sent up by the pain receptors.
Hence, the primary role of the descending pathway is to send chemical messages from the brain to close the gates in the spinal cord to ascending messages.
Descending inhibitory processes are of great interest in the research arena. Hence, it has been extensively studied by scientists.
For instance, descending inhibitory processes have been investigated in anaesthetized animals.
It was found that the firing of dorsal horn neurons in response to noxious skin heating can be inhibited by stimulation in the periaqueductal grey (PAG) and the lateral reticular formation (LRF) in the midbrain.
In addition, inhibition of the spinal cord neurons can also be achieved by electrical stimulation in other regions of the brain, such as the raphe nuclei, the locus coeruleus, and various regions of the medullary reticular formation, as well as sites in the hypothalamus, septum, orbital cortex, and sensorimotor cortex.
At the present it is not clear to what extent these different descending systems cooperate and interact, what their normal physiological functions are, and how they can be activated other than by focal electrical stimulation.
What are mechanoreceptors?
Mechanoreceptors are a type of somatosensory receptors which use extracellular stimulus to intracellular signal transduction through mechanically gated ion channels. The external stimuli are usually in the form of touch, pressure, stretching, sound waves, and motion.
Where are Themoreceptors located?
Thermoreceptors are free nerve endings that are found in the skin, skeletal muscles, liver and hypothalamus. There is more than three times the number of cold thermoreceptors than there are heat thermoreceptors.
Perceptial adaptation examples.
Below are a few examples of perceptual adaptation featuring different senses.
Perceptial adaptation example for sight.
An example of Perceptual Adaptation and vision is when a person who is in a dark or dimly lit room is then exposed to a bright light source.
The retina of the person’s eyes will be fully dilated so that they can see better in the dark.
However, the retina will let in too much light from the bright light source may blind the person and be uncomfortable to look at.
The person’s retina will then begin to close and gradually the person’s eyes adjust so that the light source appears normal.
Perceptual adaptation example for hearing.
Perceptual Adaptation and hearing is when a person walks into a loud or quiet room and then adapts to that level of noise.
When they walk into another room that has a different sound level, their auditory senses will adjust.
Perceptual adaptation example for touch.
An example of Perceptual Adaptation for touch is if someone walks outside on a cold winter day and feels very uncomfortable at first because their fingers or toes are exposed to low temperatures.
However, as their body begins to warm up, they will not feel as cold as they did before.
Perceptual adaptation even happens in taste with an example of this being if someone with a sensitive palate tries sour candy for the first time they will find it to be too sour. After some time, though, they get used to the sourness.
Where in the brain does perceptual adaptation happen?
Perceptual Adaptation is believed to be controlled by the cerebral cortex which receives sensory input from the thalamus.
This mechanism allows people to filter out what they do not want to sense so that they only receive the information that they want to sense.
Perceptual Adaptation is incredibly important as it prevents people from being overwhelmed by sensory overload and allows them to become accustomed to their surroundings.
How fast is perceptual adaptation?
Perceptual Adaptation happens at a faster rate than you might expect.
It happens so quickly that it has an almost immediate transition period with your senses adjusting between levels of stimuli before settling on a particular level. (whether it be too high or low)
Perceptual Adaptation is an important mechanism in preventing sensory overload.
Why you need someone to check your work.
So you spent hours perfecting your masterpiece, possibly days, fine-tuning every word and element on the page.
Then some punk comes along and points out one glaring mistake after another while you think to yourself “Holy creeping Jesus, how did I miss that?“.
Regardless of how much time we spend designing something, there always seems to be a slew of errors or silly mistakes that we’re blind to. It’s for this reason that many of us have a third party to proofread whatever we create.
However, the reason why we always seem to make mistakes at work is because of Perceptual Adaptation. Our brains (possibly given to us by “Holy creeping Jesus” himself) filter out minor mistakes as our subconscious tells our conscious mind that they aren’t important.
This doesn’t justify doing a shitty job or being a perfectionist. It’s just our brains avoiding us from being overwhelmed by all of the details in our work.
Therefore, it only makes sense to have someone check your work before you release it to the world.