Different Visual Illustrations In Perception Essay

2473 words - 10 pages

Different Visual Illustrations in Perception How can visual illusions illustrate top down processes in perception?
Contrast this with a visual illusion that can be explained through
bottom up processes.

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Figure 1 Muller Lyer illusion

There are many
suggestions to explain how visual illusions can be perceived. These
suggestions include physical illusions, bottom up illusions and top
down illusions. An example of a physical illusion is how a straight
stick when placed in water appears bent. Here the illusion has
occurred before the light has entered the eye and so is a physical
illusion. Bottom up and top down illusions however involve the
processing after the light has entered the eye. Bottom up processes
are processes which take information into the eye and then make
judgements about the nature of the visual world based solely on this
information. Hering who suggested that it was the innate ability of
the visual system that led to how things were perceived illustrates
this. Top down processing however involves using prior knowledge and
experience about the structure of the world to influence how something
is perceived. Helmholtz who felt that the perception of a stimulus
was based on visual experience illustrated this. The following
illusions show examples of how both processes can be used to explain

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Figure 2 shows how the Muller Lyer illusion can be perceived as a three dimensional object, e.g. the inside or outside of a building

An example of a visual illusion that can be explained by top down
processing is the Muller Lyer illusion (figure 1). In this illusion
the lines in both A and B are the same length however the arrows
pointing inwards in A make the line appear longer than when the arrows
point outwards as in B. Gregory explained this illusion in 1970 by
suggesting that the lines are perceived as being three dimensional
rather than two-dimensional. This is shown in figure 2 where A is
shown as the inside of the room and B shown as the outside. By
perceiving the objects in this way A becomes further away than B.
However given that the lines are of the same size by applying the
principle of size constancy it can be concluded that A is perceived as
being longer than B. For this to be perceived knowledge about what
the outside and inside of a building looks like must be taken into
account. This therefore shows how prior knowledge is used when the
image is perceived and so shows how the Muller Lyer illusion is
perceived through top down processing.

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