Perceptual Organization in Vision: Behavioral and Neural Perspectives

Perceptual Organization in Vision: Behavioral and Neural Perspectives

Perceptual Organization in Vision: Behavioral and Neural Perspectives

Perceptual Organization in Vision: Behavioral and Neural Perspectives

Synopsis

Understanding visual perceptual organization remains a challenge for vision science. Perceptual Organization in Vision: Behavioral and Neural Perspectives explores ideas emanating from behavioral, developmental, neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and computational approaches to the problem of perceptual organization. The growing body of research on perceptual organization has converged on a number of critical issues, most of which are addressed in this volume. These include issues concerning the nature and order of organizational processes, the stimulus factors that engage the mechanisms of organization, the developmental stage at which the mechanisms of organization are available, the role of past experience and learning in organization, the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual organization, and the relations between perceptual organization and other cognitive processes, in particular, object recognition and visual attention. Divided into four parts, the book is designed not only to detail the current state of the art in the field but also to promote an interdisciplinary approach to the study of perceptual organization. Part I presents an overview of the problem of perceptual organization, different frameworks for understanding perceptual organization, and a state-of-the-art summary of the domain. Part II details which organizational processes are hardwired in the perceptual system, which are acquired through experience, and how object perception relates to other aspects of cognition. Part III describes various attempts to understand the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual organization using two different approaches-neurophysiological and neuropsychological. Part IV offers a computational approach to the problem. This book is intended for cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, computational vision scientists, and developmental psychologists.

Excerpt

This volume is based on papers presented in June 2000 at the 31st Carnegie Symposium on Cognition. As is the case at all the Carnegie symposia, this meeting brought together a small group of leading scientists to explore an issue at the forefront of the study of cognition. The subject of this symposium was perceptual organization in vision.

The problem of perceptual organization is central to understanding visual perception. The visual world consciously perceived is very different from the retinal mosaic of intensities and colors that arises from external objects. We perceive an organized visual world consisting of discrete objects that are coherently arranged in space. Some internal processes of organization must be responsible for structuring the bits and pieces of visual information into the larger units of perceived objects and their relations to each other.

The Gestalt school of psychology was the first to raise the problem of perceptual organization during the first half of the 20th century, suggesting that organization is composed of grouping and segregation processes. Although the Gestaltists' work on perceptual organization has been widely credited with identifying crucial phenomena of perception, and their demonstrations of grouping appear in almost every textbook about perception, there has been relatively little theoretical and empirical emphasis on perceptual organization during the latter half of the 1900s. This may be, in part, because the study of visual perception has been dominated for several decades by the “early feature-analysis” view, according to which early perceptual processes analyze simple features and elements (e.g., oriented line segments) that are integrated later, somewhat mysteriously, into coherent objects. A major contributor to the popularity of this view has been earlier work on physiology of vision—most notably the work of Hubel and Wiesel—in the 1950s and 1960s, that has fostered the idea of a hierarchical system that proceeds from extracting simple properties to extracting more complex stimulus configurations in a strictly feedforward way. Despite all the valuable knowledge that has been gained by investigations within this framework, it is now becoming evident that organizational issues cannot be ignored and that solving the problem of perceptual organization is crucial for understanding vision. This change in attitude has been inspired in . . .

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