Art, artists, and perception: A model for premotor contributions to perceptual analysis and form recognition

Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):149 – 171 (2008)
Artists, art critics, art historians, and cognitive psychologists have asserted that visual artists perceive the world differently than nonartists and that these perceptual abilities are the product of knowledge of techniques for working in an artistic medium. In support of these claims, Kozbelt (2001) found that artists outperform nonartists in visual analysis tasks and that these perceptual advantages are statistically correlated with drawing skill. We propose a model to explain these results that is derived from a diagnostic framework for object recognition and recent research in cognitive neuroscience on selective visual attention. This research demonstrates that endogenous shifts of visual attention enhance the encoding of expected features in the visual field and inhibit the perception of potential distracters. Moreover, it demonstrates complementary roles for spatial schemata and motor plans in visual attention. We argue that artists develop novel spatial schemata, which enable them to recognize and reproduce stimulus features sufficient for adequate artistic production in a medium, and that these schemata become encoded as motor plans as artists develop technical proficiency in a medium. We hypothesize that artists' perceptual advantages can therefore, be explained by the role spatial schemata and motor plans play in selective attention.
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DOI 10.1080/09515080801976573
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