Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 469–480 | Cite as

Visual Switching: The Illusion of Instantaneity and Visual Search



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.



Some of the research cited in this paper was conducted by Cees van Leeuwen and Hironori Nakatani at the Riken Laboratory for Perceptual Dynamics in Tokyo, Japan. Thanks to both for giving me the opportunity to work with them.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy and Cognitive ScienceRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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