August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
The rise and fall of the Gestalt gist
Author Affiliations
  • Shaul Hochstein
    Departments of Neurobiology and Psychology, Hebrew University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1386. doi:10.1167/12.9.1386
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    • Get Citation

      Shaul Hochstein, Merav Ahissar; The rise and fall of the Gestalt gist. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1386. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1386.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Reviewing the current literature, one finds physiological bases for Gestalt-like perception, but also much that seems to contradict the predictions of this theory. Some resolution may be found in the framework of Reverse Hierarchy Theory, dividing between implicit processes, of which we are unaware, and explicit representations, which enter perceptual consciousness. It is the conscious percepts that appear to match Gestalt predictions - recognizing wholes even before the parts. We now need to study the processing mechanisms at each level, and, importantly, the feedback interactions which equally affect and determine the plethora of representations that are formed, and to analyze how they determine conscious perception. Reverse Hierarchy Theory proposes that initial perception of the gist of a scene - including whole objects, categories and concepts - depends on rapid bottom-up implicit processes, which seems to follow (determine) Gestalt rules. Since lower level representations are initially unavailable to consciousness - and may become available only with top-down guidance - perception seems to immediately jump to Gestalt conclusions. Nevertheless, vision at a blink of the eye is the result of many layers of processing, though introspection is blind to these steps, failing to see the trees within the forest. Later, slower perception, focusing on specific details, reveals the source of Gestalt processes - and destroys them at the same time. Details of recent results, including micro-genesis analyses, will be reviewed within the framework of Gestalt and Reverse Hierarchy theories.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012

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