Views of Perception: Helmholtz and Gibson (Part 2 of 2)

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Gibson referred to such shifts as rexture gradients, and he pointed out that they are virtually invariant features of scenes in which surfaces recede from us, whether the surface is a field of poppies. a river covered with logs, or pebbles on a beach. Gibson termed the built-in sensitivity of our nervous system to such an invariant an arrogance. Thus our accordance to texture gradients allows them to act as powerful cues for depth, evoking the perception of a receding surface as directly as our experience of hue or pitch without any intervening process of synthesis or interpretation.

Gibson’s concern with the natural occurrence of cues in our environment has led to a greater appreciation of how complex stimulus properties can be picked up directly by our sensory systems and evoke an immediate perception rather than one built up from a combination of simpler   component sensations. Yet there are types of stimuli that do seem to evoke perception through a rather slow, inferential process. In another article it shows a drawing that is perceived at first as a normal building. Only after you have taken some time to examine components of the building closely do you perceive it as an impossible structure, one whose component parts couldn’t really fit together.   Whether one takes a Gibsonian or Helmholtzian view, there is little question that perceptions are evoked by cues in the environment and   depend to a large extent on prior experience. A major goal of this article is to make you more aware both of how cues evoke perception and of the distinction between such cues and what we perceive. To begin we will consider some general principles of perception.

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