Brian Scholl, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Chair, Cognitive Science Program
Director, Perception & Cognition Laboratory
Topic: Seeing and Thinking: Perception Extracts Properties Usually Associated with Higher-Level Thought
Zoom Link: Join Zoom meeting
Abstract: The goal of vision science is to understand how we see. In pursuit of this goal, though, we can ask an equally fundamental question: *What* do we see? Some answers to this question seem uncontroversial, and it seems clear that visual processing extracts properties such as color, shape, and motion. However, recent work suggests that visual processing may be richer than we sometimes suspect -- also trafficking in properties that we typically associate with higher-level cognition. Here I'll review recent work from our lab suggesting that visual processing extracts properties such as agency, causal history, intuitive physics, and the attentional states of others. I will suggest that such properties are indeed *seen* in a concrete, non-metaphorical sense. Appreciating that a tower is about to fall, for example -- or that an object looks the way it does because it was crushed, or that another agent is attending to us -- seems more like perceiving a shape than proving a theorem. This presentation will involve some results and some statistics, but the key claims will also be illustrated with phenomenologically vivid demonstrations in which you'll be able to directly experience such percepts -- via phenomena such as transformational apparent motion, change detection, inattentional blindness, and gaze cueing. Collectively, this work presents a new way to think about how perception delivers a rich interpretation of the world to the mind at large.