Contextual Facilitation of Colour Recognition: Penetrating Beliefs or Colour-Shape Associations?

My aim in this paper is to defend the view that the processes underlying early vision are informationally encapsulated. Following Marr (1982) and Pylyshyn (1999) I take early vision to be a cognitive process that takes sensory information as its input and produces the so-called primal sketches or shallow visual outputs: informational states that represent visual objects in terms of their shape, location, size, colour and luminosity. Recently, some researchers (Schirillo 1999, Macpherson 2012) have attempted to undermine the idea of the informational encapsulation of early vision by referring to experiments that seem to show that colour recognition is affected by the subject's beliefs about the typical colour of objects. In my view, however, one can reconcile the results of these experiments with the position that early vision is informationally encapsulated. Namely, I put fort a hypothesis according to which the early vision system has access to a local database that I call the mental palette and define as a network of associative links whose nodes stands for shapes and colours. The function of the palette is to facilitate colour recognition without employing central processes. I also describe two experiments by which the mental palette hypothesis can be tested.
Keywords modularity of mind  informational encapsulation  cognitive penetrability  early vision  colour perception
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