Is vision continuous with cognition?

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (3):341-365 (2000)
Although the study of visual perception has made more progress in the past 40 years than any other area of cognitive science, there remain major disagreements as to how closely vision is tied to cognition. This target article sets out some of the arguments for both sides (arguments from computer vision, neuroscience, psychophysics, perceptual learning, and other areas of vision science) and defends the position that an important part of visual perception, corresponding to what some people have called early vision, is prohibited from accessing relevant expectations, knowledge, and utilities in determining the function it computes – in other words, it is cognitively impenetrable. That part of vision is complex and involves top-down interactions that are internal to the early vision system. Its function is to provide a structured representation of the 3-D surfaces of objects sufficient to serve as an index into memory, with somewhat different outputs being made available to other systems such as those dealing with motor control. The paper also addresses certain conceptual and methodological issues raised by this claim, such as whether signal detection theory and event-related potentials can be used to assess cognitive penetration of vision.
Keywords categorical perception   cognitive penetration   context effects   early vision   expert perception   knowledge-based vision   modularity of vision   natural constraints   “new look” in vision   perceptual learning   signal detection theory   stages of vision   top-down processes   visual agnosia   visual attention   visual processing
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DOI 10.1017/S0140525X99002022
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E. J. Green (forthcoming). A Layered View of Shape Perception. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv042.

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