Sensation versus Perception 
Quantum mechanics predicts a superposed and uncertain universe instead of the perceived definite and predictable classical world. The superposed universe contains all probable states and therefore includes many more data and presents a much larger information domain. One state classical world in comparison holds much smaller data.
Before we examine our mind’s ability to perceive, it is important to understand how we acquire perception in the first place. Sensation starts during the embryonic era, as our sense organs develop. While the sense organs help us to cope and coordinate with physical reality, the accuracy of the created perception is a matter of debate. While the sense organs receive stimuli and send a related action potential to different brain parts, the connections made with other neurons and the pathway that signals follow (via many synapses created) during the embryonic era (childhood and later on) are important factors in creating one’s perception. A person that is born blind and who has corrective surgery later on in life may recognize the brightness of light and its approximate location but have difficulty recognizing the shapes of objects because the appropriate connection between synapses are not formed (Kalat 2003, 178). Many of them find the newly obtained vision useless and prefer to keep their eyes shut most of the time. Visual development requires excitation of some synapses and inhibition of others (click to watch video). The point here is that the detection or perception of an object does not merely rise from qualities of the external object but is partly created by neuronal connections and circuitries.
It has been shown that tactile sense begins about seven weeks after gestation and gradually develops until the fourth month of fetal life. Babies start to receive sound stimulus by fourteen weeks of embryonic life. Our sense of sight develops before birth as well (for example, babies in the womb react to a flash of light to mother's abdomen). By the time of birth, vision is well advanced, although not yet perfect. The fetus’s taste buds are formed at fourteen weeks, demonstrated by studies that show the fetus has a definite preference for sweetness in amniotic fluid.
A fetus has a virgin brain. At the beginning there is just reception, meaning the stimuli sense organs merely notice and observe; they do not distinguish or interpret. Many of the inter-neurons and synapses have not yet been formed. Stimuli cannot be interpreted yet because the fetus lacks previous experiences to form a contextual framework. Stimulus promotes the extension of axons and the formation of synapses. Recognition comes when stimulus is repeated and certain pathways are formed. Gradually, the baby can differentiate various sensations as favorable or deterrent.
Newborns do not fully understand space, and it is common for them to grasp for objects that are out of reach. Complete perception of space develops gradually, by (i.e., trial and error). Objects are unfamiliar to the virgin brain as well. During the embryonic stage and continuing past the first year of life, a baby slowly develops an impression about the nature of material objects. If we define time as the product of accumulated memories, then at the beginning, time does not have any meaning for an embryo either.
As the baby experiments with the outside world, it gradually builds a perception from its environment. This early conceptualization is the ground for building a preliminary logic, which the baby then uses to analyze its surroundings. Dreams may play an important role in the process. According to activation-synthesis hypothesis of dreaming, dreams begin with periodic bursts of spontaneous activity in the pons (the part of the brain that connects the cerebellum to the rest of the brain). PGO waves (waves of brain activity transmitted from the pons to the lateral geniculate and then to the occipital lobe) partly activate many but not all parts of the cerebral cortex. The cortex combines this haphazard input with whatever other activity was already occurring, interprets the sum of the information it receives, and does its best to synthesize a story that makes sense of it all (Kalat 2003, 288). One may assume that a newborn uses dreaming as a tool to relate the data it receives and to build perceptions. Infants get more REM (rapid-eye movement) and total sleep than adults do. There are various hypotheses for why REM sleep is important: its function may be for memory storage, or it may help the brain discard so-called useless connections that formed accidentally (Kalat 2003, 287). But how does one determine which synaptic connections are useless? Do only personal experiences matter, or do parental guidance as well as social and cultural influences also affect which neuronal connections we select and which we discard? Neonatal cerebral growth is dominated with growth of short cortico-cortical fibers (which primarily connect the neurons of cortical layer plus connection to lower parts on each side). The process continues to the sixth postnatal month and beyond (Kostović and Judaš 2009, 39). Therefore, in this period, most of the connections are establishing inside each hemisphere. The circuitry of early cognition phase (7–12 months) is characterized by short cortico-cortical pathways and initial differentiation of inhibitory synapses. These synapses hyperpolarize the post synaptic neuron and therefore block the transmition. Later on, these inhibitory action stops the excitation of selective synapses, therefore selectively block many cognition pathways. Kostović and Judaš (2009) suggest that the disappearance of some circuitry elements should precede the onset of goal-directed behavior and the ability to retrieve schemas from past events that are no longer in the perceptual field. They describe this new cognitive phase, which develops after the seventh postnatal month, environmentally driven. This new cognitive phase provokes the onset of characteristic executive functions related to the spatiotemporal relationship. In this manner, circuitries considered unfit are eliminated from the infant perception. This process speeds up after the fifteenth month, when social interaction intensifies. Interestingly, genes within the major histo-compatibility complex Class I appear to be involved in the inhibitory mechanism and later on in the plasticity-limiting mechanism (Boulanger, Huh, and Shatz 2001; Huh et al. 2000 (page 104 ref 21, Functional requirement for class 1 MHC in CNS development ad plasticity, Science ,290(549),2155-2159). Gene controlled inhibition insures that discernment of every species stays within permissible boundaries and each species has similar perception of the world.
After birth, the initial environmentally driven cognitive circuitry is formed; the number of synapses increases and inhibitory synapses appear. Infants exposed to environmental sensory stimuli obtain unrestricted connections and informational pathways. However, many adult life synapses and pathways will not be formed until twelve to twenty-four months (Kostović and Judaš 2009, 29). Parental coaching and social conditioning, which come later, do not expand the scope of the central nervous system; rather, they inhibit and limit neuronal connections and pathways and hence perception span. The thickness of gray matter in the cortex increases up to the ages of eight to twelve, which indicates an increase in the density of neurons and dendrites and inter-neuronal connections at the cortical layer. This creates a wealth of pathways for a child’s perception, leading to a heightened so-called imagination. Thereafter a decrease in the thickness of gray matter indicates the pruning of “excess” dendrites and neurons (Bunge, Mackey, and Whitaker 2009, 81). The pruning and elimination of these neurons and synapses results in more restricted and homologous perceptions between adults in a given culture and between humans in general.
The synaptic connections help build the framework for future cognition. Storytelling by adults and dreaming may assist in act of organizing and refining the appropriate synapses and forming early perceptions from the environment. These neuronal connections can be the initial framework of our logical thinking.
Language and mathematics (and numbers in general), two very important tools to build our perception of reality, are learned gradually during the first two years and refined in the years after. Immanuel Kant, Karl Weierstrass, and later on Albert Einstein believed that mathematics is a pure creation of the human mind. Friedrich Nietzsche believed that all of logic and the whole of mathematics are manmade fictions (Kafatos and Nadeau 1999). During the second year, new cognitive functions, such as production of meaningful speech and feeling of the self, gradually develop (Kostović and Judaš 2009, 41). Little by little a sense of self develops as well, whereby the child begins to distinguish himself from his mother, something newborns do not do. This feeling of self, as well as speech production, requires the manipulation of data, primarily the function of left hemisphere.
Perceptual maturation depends equally on differentiation and maturation of inhibitory synapses. The inhibitory synapses selectively block excitations of many neurons and pathways and therefore guide and redirect the perception of individuals to certain other pathways. The brain is very active when it comes to filtering incoming stimuli. Almost everywhere that there is an excitation mechanism there is a parallel inhibitory mechanism to ignore unwanted stimuli. Long-term potentiation (LTP) of certain synapses and pathways is believed to be responsible for memory storage. Parallel with this, long-term depression (LTD) mechanisms prohibit unwanted encounters from being stored in the memory. The above findings support the argument that our impression of our surroundings does not accurately reflect what’s really out there. Our perception is highly influenced by brain function, which in turn is influenced by cultural and social interaction. One frequently finds minor differences in perception among individuals involved in the same incident. This casts doubt on our perceptual system’s ability to indiscriminately conceptualize data and produce an accurate insight of objective reality. The classical world may be partly built by brain function and its prejudices (consisting of established and ingrained neuronal networks). A good analogy is provided by motion pictures, in which individual objects in discrete pictures are perceived as moving objects. In addition to limited ability of our visual organs to distinguish these fast-exchanging pictures, the brain's integration process and creation of perception out of partial clues is also a major factor. Please note that in the quantum mechanical view, the universe is made of discrete elements (such as quanta of matter, space, or time), whereas our classical perception of the world sketches continuous and homologous surroundings in front of our eyes. Classical discernment has been very helpful for practical purposes, including the building of human civilization. However, new findings cast doubt in its exactness. Quantum mechanics calls for a new system of perception based on current physical findings.