Sensation is described as the stimulus of the receptors that our brain receives whenever we utilize any of our five senses such as hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, or touching. Sensation travels through a process called transduction, which converts, by sensors in the body, of psychical signals from the environment into neural signals sent to the central nervous system (S & G, 2011, pg. 94).
When you walk into a college dorm room, the aroma of marijuana is overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes the smell fades. When you first wake up in the morning and put a clean pair of underwear on, you initially feel them rubbing against your skin, but after a few minutes you get used to it. These are examples of sensory adaptation, the observation that sensitivity to prolonged stimulation tends to decline over time as an organism adapts to current conditions (S & G, 2011, pg. 94). This adaptation allows people to adapt to their environments while balancing the need to receive new sensory input.
One of the best ways to illustrate sensory adaptation is to relate the eye to its environment. For example, if you go to the movie theater and sit for a couple of hours in darkness, then walk out into the bright sunlight on a clear day, it is going to take a few minutes for your eyes to adjust. The level of light has not changed. The receptors inside the eye have adjusted their sensitivity. Sensory adaptation is a very useful process for most living creatures. It would be quite irritating if one always felt their tongue inside their mouth or constantly heard daily background noises.
This past summer I lived with two individuals who smoked marijuana regularly, so when I returned home from worked, it initially took a few minutes for my senses to adapt to the environment I had just entered. After staying in the house for awhile, the smell seems to fade away, when in reality I am adapting to the environment through sense of smell. Toward the end of the summer, I had become so familiar with the scent and adapted to the environment, I no longer noticed the heavy stench. Conversely, friends that would come to visit would comment on the intensity of the smell because they had not been exposed to it.