Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cognitive and affective mental states penetrate visual processing, and can affect the system’s behaviour, structure and perceptual content

Cognitive penetration of early vision in face perception. Ariel S. Cecchi. Consciousness and Cognition, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2018.06.005

Highlights
•    Cognitive and affective mental states penetrate visual processing.
•    This influence can affect the system’s behaviour, structure and perceptual content.
•    Psychological evidence is not sufficient to argue for the penetration of perception.
•    Psychological evidence is not necessary to argue for the penetration of perception.
•    The penetration of visual perception needs to be assessed by neuroscientific evidence.
•    A neurocientific study appears to show higher influences in early visual content.
•    It is concluded that this study shows a case of cognitive penetration of early vision.
•    Alternative explanations to this conclusion are considered and rejected.

Abstract: Cognitive and affective penetration of perception refers to the influence that higher mental states such as beliefs and emotions have on perceptual systems. Psychological and neuroscientific studies appear to show that these states modulate the visual system at the visuomotor, attentional, and late levels of processing. However, empirical evidence showing that similar consequences occur in early stages of visual processing seems to be scarce. In this paper, I argue that psychological evidence does not seem to be either sufficient or necessary to argue in favour of or against the cognitive penetration of perception in either late or early vision. In order to do that we need to have recourse to brain imaging techniques. Thus, I introduce a neuroscientific study and argue that it seems to provide well-grounded evidence for the cognitive penetration of early vision in face perception. I also examine and reject alternative explanations to my conclusion.

Keywords: Visual perception; Early vision; Late vision; Cognitive penetration; Affective penetration; Penetrability of visual perception; Face perception