Perceived Distances and Familiarity

Given the perception that these five faces range from close to far, which face is at the same distance as the ball The answer depends on how large the ball is. Suppose the ball is a basketball. Which face is on the same plane Now suppose the ball is a Ping-Pong ball. Distance judgments are made on the basis of size as reflected on a person's retina (bottom-up processing) and on knowledge of the object (top-down processing). 7.6 Perceived distances and familiarity an example of top-down and...

Visual Dissonance

Visual dissonance is defined as a state of psychological tension caused when one experiences a disparity between what one expects to see and what one actually sees. The concept is related to a well-known phenomenon in social psychology called cognitive dissonance, which happens when we perceive a discrepancy among our attitudes and or our behavior. Our eyes see the world of art with a thousand expectations based on our personality and our cognitive structure (knowledge system). Sometimes those...

Neanderthals Cro Magnons and Dogs That Cant Hunt

Not all members of the human family considered such lofty thoughts. One of the most successful Homo sapiens arrived on the scene as far back as 230,000 years ago (by some estimates) in the form of the Neanderthals, whose celebrated skeletal remains were first found in the Neander valley in Germany in 1857. The Neanderthals lived mostly in Europe in their later millennia they lived side by side with audacious cohabitants, the Cro-Magnons, who first came up with the idea of painting cave walls an...

The Cognitive Big Bang and the Emergence of

It is possible to reconstruct the cerebral and social events that may have contributed to the cognitive big bang using a type of reverse engineering. By examining fossil, behavioral, and artifactual evidence, we can come to some well-reasoned conclusions without resorting to too much intellectual horse-pucky. Brain size is correlated with intellectual performance (see previous chapters). Such observations hold for humanoids as well as other species. In bats and dolphins there is a relatively...

Principles of Depth Perception Where Is It

Depth Perception Explained

Comprehension of physical objects is based on the way the eyes and brain process visual stimuli, as we discussed in some detail in chapters 3 and 4. In addition to answering what an object is (primarily in the ventral stream), the brain answers where an object is (primarily in the dorsal stream). In addition, we ask questions of a dynamic sort, such as what the thing is doing and how I might interact with it. This is a bit of an oversimplification, as there are additional streams and...

Nativistic Perception and Directed Perception

Over the years that I have taught a course called Cognition and the Visual Arts I have found two aspects of viewing art that were most instructive. The first, nativistic perception (also known as bottom-up processing to cognitive scientists because it begins with basic physical stimuli), deals with the way the eye and brain work in matched synchrony. Each transforms electromagnetic energy into neuro-chemical codes. As pedantic as that phrase might seem, technically speaking it is exactly what...

The Cognitive Blueprint

Like an ever-brachiating network growing exponentially, the human brain became by far the most complicated entity known to man. With more profusely arborized neurons working in parallel synchrony, the computational powers of the human polychrome cave paintings appeared about 17,000 years ago. These early images include the famous sorcerer from Les Trois Fr res and the earliest depictions of animals in Lascaux. A more mature style of cave art started to appear some 15,000 years ago. The...