Spatial Organization and the Appearances Thereof in Early Vision

In Gary Hatfield & Sarah Allred (eds.), Visual Experience: Sensation, Cognition, and Constancy. OUP Oxford 135 (2012)
The perception of the lightness of surfaces has been shown to be affected by information about the spatial configuration of those surfaces and their illuminants. For example, two surfaces of equal luminance can appear to be of very different lightness if one of the two appears to lie in a shadow. How are we to understand the character of the processes that integrate such spatial configuration information so as to yield the eventual appearance of lightness? This paper makes some simple observations about the vocabulary of appearance used in these contexts, and proposes that the end results can be called "phenomenal" in a traditional sense of that word. Processes whose products are phenomenal are next distinguished from processes characterized in other terms: (a) processes of perceptual grouping; (b) processes of perceptual organization; and (c) attentional (as opposed to preattentive) processes. These four categories are conceptually and empirically distinct. In particular, the paper reviews some evidence that appearances as of contours, occlusion, and amodally completed shapes can occur preattentively. Some implications for understanding gestalt grouping processes are briefly discussed
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