Visual Perception


perception, in psychology, mental organization and interpretation of sensory information. The Gestalt psychologists studied extensively the ways in which people organize and select from the vast array of stimuli that are presented to them, concentrating particularly on visual stimuli. Perception is influenced by a variety of factors, including the intensity and physical dimensions of the stimulus; such activities of the sense organs as effects of preceding stimulation; the subject's past experience; attention factors such as readiness to respond to a stimulus; and motivation and emotional state of the subject. Stimulus elements in visual organization form perceived patterns according to their nearness to each other, their similarity, the tendency for the subject to perceive complete figures, and the ability of the subject to distinguish important figures from background. Perceptual constancy is the tendency of a subject to interpret one object in the same manner, regardless of such variations as distance, angle of sight, or brightness. Through selective attention, the subject focuses on a limited number of stimuli, and ignores those that are considered less important. Depth perception, considered to be innate in most animals, is produced by a variety of visual cues indicating perspective, and by a slight disparity in the images of an object on the two retinas. An absolute threshold is the minimal physical intensity of a stimulus that a subject can normally perceive, whereas a difference threshold is the minimal amount of change in a stimulus that can be consciously detected by the subject. Recent studies have shown that stimuli are actually perceived in the brain, while sensory organs merely gather the signals. William Dobelle's research, for instance, has offered significant hope for the blind.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2016, The Columbia University Press.

Visual Perception: Selected full-text books and articles

Theories of Visual Perception By Ian E. Gordon Psychology Press, 2004 (3rd edition)
Descartes on Seeing: Epistemology and Visual Perception By Celia Wolf-Devine Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
Visual Perception and Cognition in Infancy By Carl Granrud Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1993
Visual Attention By Richard D. Wright Oxford University Press, 1998
Visual Coding and Adaptability By Charles S. Harris Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1980
Visual Processes in Reading and Reading Disabilities By Dale M. Willows; Richard S. Kruk; Evelyne Corcos Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1993
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