Rich experience and sensory memory

Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):159-176 (2011)
Abstract
One of the possible ways to explain the experience of visual richness is to posit a level of nonconceptual or phenomenal experience. The contents of this level of experience have recently been equated with the contents of sensory memory. It will be argued that sensory memory cannot provide these contents along two broad points. First, the conception of sensory memory relied on by these authors conflates the phenomena of visible and informational persistence, and makes use of an outdated ?iconic? model of visual short-term memory. Second, the way in which subjects? reports are used to show that specific unreported contents are nevertheless experienced on a phenomenal level is questioned, using evidence on gist and high-level categorical perceptual processing. It is concluded that sensory memory, properly understood, cannot provide the kind of visual content required to support a level of richly detailed phenomenal experience, or a pictorial account of perception. Finally, alternative ways of explaining visual richness are suggested
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