Synthese

, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 79–103 | Cite as

What it is like to see: A sensorimotor theory of perceptual experience

  • J. Kevin O'Regan
  • Alva noë
Article

Abstract

The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the ''felt''aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of''give-and-take'' between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We are also ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally weconsider a number of testable empirical consequences,one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of ''change blindness''.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Abeles, M. and Y. Prut: 1996, 'Spatio-Temporal Firing Patterns in the Frontal Cortex of Behaving Monkeys', Journal of Physiology Paris 90(3–4), 249–250.Google Scholar
  2. Apkarian, P. A.: 1983, 'Visual Training after Long Term Deprivation: A Case Report', International Journal of Neuroscience 19(1–4), 65–83.Google Scholar
  3. Bach-y-Rita, P.: 1967, 'Sensory Plasticity. Applications to a Vision Substitution System', Acta Neurol Scand 43(4), 417–426.Google Scholar
  4. Bach-y-Rita, P.: 1972, Brain Mechanisms in Sensory Substitution, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Bach-y-Rita, P.: 1983, 'Tactile Vision Substitution: Past and Future', International Journal of Neuroscience 19(1–4), 29–36.Google Scholar
  6. Barlow, H. B.: 1972, 'Single Units and Sensation: A Neuron Doctrine for Perceptual Psychology?', Perception 1(4), 371–394.Google Scholar
  7. Block, N.: 1995, 'On a Confusion about a Function of Consciousness', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18(2), 227–247.Google Scholar
  8. Braitenberg, V.: 1984, Vehicles. Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA/Bradford.Google Scholar
  9. Brecht, M., W. Singer, and A. K. Engel: 1998, 'Correlation Analysis of Corticotectal Interactions in the Cat Visual System', Journal of Neurophysiol 79(5), 2394–2407.Google Scholar
  10. Bridgeman, B., A. H. C. Van der Heijden, and B. M. Velichkovsky: 1994, 'A Theory of Visual Stability across Saccadic Eye Movements', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17, 247–292.Google Scholar
  11. Broackes, J.: 1992, 'The Autonomy of Colour', in K. Lennon and D. Charles (eds), Reduction, Explanation, and Realism. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 421–465.Google Scholar
  12. Castelo-Branco, M., S. Neuenschwander, and W. Singer: 1998, 'Synchronization of Visual Responses between the Cortex, Lateral Geniculate Nucleus, and Retina in the Anesthetized Cat', Journal of Neuroscience 18(16), 6395–6410.Google Scholar
  13. Chalmers, D. J.: 1996, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. D'Zmura, M. and G. Iverson: 1994, 'Color Constancy. III: General Linear Recovery of Spectral Descriptions for Lights and Surfaces', Journal of Opt Soc Am A 11(9), 2398–2400.Google Scholar
  15. Durgin, F. H., S. P. Tripathy, and D. M. Levi: 1995, 'On the Filling in of the Visual Blind Spot: Some Rules of Thumb', Perception 24(7), 827–840.Google Scholar
  16. Easton, R. D.: 1992, 'Inherent Problems of Attempts to Apply Sonar and Vibrotactile Sensory Aid Technology to the Perceptual Needs of the Blind', Optom Visual Science 69(1), 3–14.Google Scholar
  17. Gray, C. M. and W. Singer: 1989, 'Stimulus-Specific Neuronal Oscillations in Orientation Columns of Cat Visual Cortex', Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 86(5), 1698–1702.Google Scholar
  18. Grimes, J.: 1996, 'On the Failure to Detect Changes in Scenes across Saccades', in K. Akins (ed.), Perception, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, pp. 89–110.Google Scholar
  19. Grüsser, O. J.: 1986, 'Interaction of Efferent and Afferent Signals in Visual Perception. A History of Ideas and Experimental Paradigms', Acta Psychol (Amst) 63(1–3), 3–21.Google Scholar
  20. Guarniero, G.: 1974, 'Experience of Tactile Vision', Perception 3(1), 101–104.Google Scholar
  21. Guarniero, G.: 1977, 'Tactile Vision: A Personal View', Visual Impairment and Blindness, March, 125–130.Google Scholar
  22. Husserl, E.: 1907/1991, Ding und Raum. Vorlesungen 1907, Meiner, Hamburg.Google Scholar
  23. Irwin, D. E.: 1991, 'Information Integration Across Saccadic Eye Movements', Cognitive Psychology 23, 420–456.Google Scholar
  24. Irwin, D. E.: 1992, 'Perceiving an Integrated Visual World', in D. E. Meyer and S. Kornblum (eds), Attention and Performance XIV: Synergies in Experimental Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Neuroscience, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 121–142.Google Scholar
  25. Irwin, D. E. and R. D. Gordon: 1998, 'Eye Movements, Attention, and Transsaccadic Memory', Visual Cognition 5(1–2), 127–155.Google Scholar
  26. Koenderink, J. J.: 1984, 'The Concept of Local Sign', in A. J. van Doorn, W. A. van de Grind, and J. J. Koenderink (eds), Limits in Perception, VNU Science Press, Zeist, The Netherlands, pp. 495–547.Google Scholar
  27. Lechelt, E. C.: 1986, 'Sensory-substitution Systems for the Sensorily Impaired: The Case for the Use of Tactile-Vibratory Stimulation', Percept Mot Skills 62(2), 356–358.Google Scholar
  28. Levine, J.: 1983, 'Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap', Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64, 354–361.Google Scholar
  29. Li, W. and L. Matin: 1997, 'Saccadic Suppression of Displacement: Separate Influences of Saccade Size and of Target Retinal Eccentricity', Vision Research 37(13), 1779–1797.Google Scholar
  30. Llinas, R. and U. Ribary: 1993, 'Coherent 40-Hz Oscillation Characterizes Dream State in Humans', Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 90(5), 2078–2081.Google Scholar
  31. MacKay, D. M.: 1962, 'Theoretical Models of Space Perception', in C. A. Muses (ed.), Aspects of the Theory of Artificial Intelligence, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 83–104.Google Scholar
  32. MacKay, D. M.: 1967, 'Ways of Looking at Perception', in W. Wathen-Dunn (ed.), Mopdels for the Perception of Speech and Visual Form, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 25–43.Google Scholar
  33. MacKay, D. M.: 1973, 'Visual Stability and Voluntary Eye Movements', in R. Jung (ed.), Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Vol. VII/3A, Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 307–331.Google Scholar
  34. Matin, E.: 1974, 'Saccadic Suppression: A Review and an Analysis', Psychol Bull 81(12), 899–917.Google Scholar
  35. McConkie, G. W. and C. B. Currie: 1996,' Visual stability across saccades while viewing complex pictures', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 22(3), 563–581.Google Scholar
  36. Merleau-Ponty, M.: 1968, Résumés de cours au Collège de France, Gallimard, Paris.Google Scholar
  37. Minsky, M.: 1988, The Society of Mind. Simon and Schuster, New York.Google Scholar
  38. Morgan, M. J.: 1977, Molyneux's Question. Vision, Touch and the Philosophy of Perception, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  39. Müller, J.: 1838, Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen, Vol. V, Hölscher, Coblenz.Google Scholar
  40. Nagel, T.: 1974, 'What is it Like to be a Bat?', Philosophical Review 83, 435–456.Google Scholar
  41. Neisser, U.: 1976, Cognition and Reality. Principles and Implications of Cognitive Psychology, W. H. Freeman, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  42. O'Regan, J. K.: 1992, 'Solving the “Real” Mysteries of Visual Perception: The World as an Outside Memory', Canadian Journal of Psychology 46, 461–488.Google Scholar
  43. O'Regan, J. K.: 1998, 'No Evidence for Neural Filling in—Vision as an Illusion—Pinning Down “Enaction”', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21(6), 767–768.Google Scholar
  44. O'Regan, J. K. and A. Noë: 'A Sensorimotor Account of Vision and Visual Consciousness', Behavioral and Brain Sciences (in press).Google Scholar
  45. O'Regan, J. K., H. Deubel, J. J. Clark, and R. A. Rensink: 2000, 'Picture Changes during Blinks: Looking without Seeing and Seeing without Looking', Visual Cognition 7(1–3), 191–212.Google Scholar
  46. O'Regan, J. K., R. A. Rensink, and J. J. Clark: 1999, 'Change-Blindness as a Result of “Mudsplashes”', Nature 398, 34.Google Scholar
  47. Pessoa, L., E. Thompson, and A. Noë: 1998, 'Finding Out About Filling in: A Guide to Perceptual Completion for Visual Science and the Philosophy of Perception', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21(6), 723–802.Google Scholar
  48. Piaget, J.: 1937/1977, La construction du réel chez l'enfant, 6th edn., Delachaux and Niestlé, Neuchatel.Google Scholar
  49. Platt, J. R.: 1960, 'How We See Straight Lines', Scientific American 202(6), 121–129.Google Scholar
  50. Poincaré, H.: 1905, La valeur de la science, Flammarion, Paris.Google Scholar
  51. Ramachandran, V. S.: 1992, 'Filling in Gaps in Perception: I', Current Directions in Psychological Science 1(6), 199–205.Google Scholar
  52. Ramachandran, V. S.: 1995, 'Filling in Gaps in Logic: Reply to Durgin et al.', Perception 24(7), 841–845.Google Scholar
  53. Ramachandran, V. S. and R. L. Gregory: 1991, 'Perceptual Filling in of Artificially Induced Scotomas in Human Vision', Nature 350(6320), 699–702.Google Scholar
  54. Rensink, R. A., J. K. O'Regan, and J. J. Clark: 1997, 'To See or Not to See: The Need for Attention to Perceive Changes in Scenes', Psychological Science 8(5), 368–373.Google Scholar
  55. Rensink, R. A., J. K. O'Regan, and J. J. Clark: 2000, 'On the Failure to Detect Changes in Scenes Across Brief Interruptions', Visual Cognition 7(1–3), 127–146.Google Scholar
  56. Shebilske, W. L.: 1977, 'Visuomotor Coordination, Visual Direction and Position Constancies', inW. Epstein (ed.), Stability and Constancy in Visual Perception: Mechanisms and Processes, John Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  57. Weekers, R. and M. Humblet: 1945, 'L'Angioscotome physiologique', Ophthalmologica 110, 43–158.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kevin O'Regan
    • 1
  • Alva noë
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale Centre National de Recherche ScientifiqueUniversité René DescartesBoulogne BillancourtFrance
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Cruz Santa Cruz

Personalised recommendations