For quite a long time, the body and mind were treated as completely different. After a lot of research, it was in the 19th century that a proper scientific approach was found to analyze the relations between the mind and the body. Two parallel studies were done, one by Ernst Weber, who gave concepts like two-point thresholds and the just noticeable difference. The other was Gustav T. Fechner who founded the field of psychophysics. He published his work, ‘Elements in Psychophysics’ in 1860, in which he explained the concept of psychophysics and said that though he attended Weber’s lectures, he did not discover Weber’s work until he started with his experiments. Psychophysics is a field of study that basically researches or investigates the connection between physical stimuli and the perceptions and sensations that it produces, finding the relationship between the physical and mental world. He gave various psychophysical methods of which two are even used today. The ‘classical’ psychophysical methods of Fechner are the method of average error, the method of limits, and the method of constant stimuli.

Psychophysics marks the basis of the development of scientific Psychology, which led to the proper advancement of the field of Experimental Psychology with the works of Wundt. It aided psychology with proper and precise methods of measurement, which helped Psychology develop as a 'science', and validate its existence. Psychophysical methods have increasingly become better through the 150 years of birth of psychophysics by the works of various psychologists and neuroscientists. In today's time, there are 'adaptive' psychophysical methods that use computer software which makes it easier to analyze the relationship between the physical stimuli and an individual's sensations and perceptions with accuracy. There is a lot of research done on sensations and perceptions, through the use of psychophysics in the long history. Today there are a lot of other measures to analyze the sensations and perceptions like fMRI, which investigate the phenomenon already established by psychophysics.

The developing learning about the brain is inciting new psychophysical trials intended to test increasingly unobtrusive inquiries. Contemporary Psychophysics complements the concepts of inner and outer Psychophysics and neurophysiology and thus Psychology. Social psychology research has been concentrating on how the social settings where we live influence how we appreciate the social reality using these principles.  A commitment of psychophysics which is right now picking up the consideration of psychologists and neuroscientists is identified with the clinical utilization of psychophysical strategies planned for understanding the improvement of the neural substrate, the exercises, and the effect of mental issues in the sensory system on these structures, and functions. The utilization of psychophysical methods in a clinical setting, in this manner, can give empirical proof to the investigation of epistemological issues of sensation and perceptions, cognizant mental abilities advancement, and research of how the physical world is seen by patients with various maladies, for example, depression, autism, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, etc. With the technological advancements, like computers, there is more accurate equipment now available, which aid in reliable and valid experimentation and thus results.

Along with Psychology, Psychophysics also contributes to diagnosis in medical settings, like in Ophthalmology, Audiometric Tests, and tests for pain among others in Neurological Tests. Ophthalmologists in various parts of the world use a device named 'C-Quant' that assesses Cataract among patients. All these use psychophysical methods, measuring sensory-perceptual thresholds. It also is used in day to day lives, such as Apple Company used principles of psychophysics in volume control for its iPod, magicians use psychophysics in making things disappear, and software engineers in special effect programming.  

Psychophysics stays a functioning zone today in psychology. Increasingly more frequently new areas in psychology are finding psychophysical strategies as a type of exploratory access to mental events and behaviors. It will, with other techniques remain a key part of neuroscience, and thus will help in investigating the aspects of mind and body.



Schultz, D.P., Schultz, S.E. (2011). History of Modern Psychology. Tenth Edition. California, USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

J.C.A.(2014). The place of human psychophysics in modern neuroscience.Neuroscience.Elsevier. (296),116-129.   




About the Author

Prakriti Kewalramani

I'm a certified career counselor through Mentoria, Mumbai, and currently pursuing my Master's in Psychology from KC Co

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