Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 469-480

First online:

Visual Switching: The Illusion of Instantaneity and Visual Search

  • Nicoletta OrlandiAffiliated withPhilosophy and Cognitive Science, Rice University Email author 

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This paper questions two prima facie plausible claims concerning switching in the presence of ambiguous figures. The first is the claim that reversing is an instantaneous process. The second is the claim that the ability to reverse demonstrates the interpretive, inferential and constructive nature of visual processing. Empirical studies show that optical and cerebral events related to switching protract in time in a way that clashes with its perceived instantaneity. The studies further suggest an alternative theory of reversing: according to such alternative, seeing the same thing in multiple ways is a matter of uncovering what is already present to the senses through visual search.