Topic: Cognition does not affect perception

Speaker : Dr. Chaz Firestone (Department of Psychological and Brain Science, Johns Hopkins University)

Date :  2017.04.26 (Wed.) 15:00-17:00

Location: 4F Lecture Hall, United Medical Front Building, Taipei Medical University

Abstract: What determines what we see? A tidal wave of recent research alleges that visual experience is ‘penetrated’ by higher-level cognitive states such as beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions, and linguistic abilities. There is a growing consensus that such effects are ubiquitous, and even that the distinction between seeing and thinking may itself be unsustainable. I argue otherwise: There is in fact no compelling evidence for such top-down effects of cognition on perception, or “cognitive penetrability”. I will present several case studies of empirically anchored ‘pitfalls’ that recast such evidence, in each case showing how alleged top-down effects on perception not only *can be* explained by alternative factors, but in fact *are* explained by such factors. The discovery of substantive top-down effects of cognition on perception remains a revolutionary possibility for our understanding of how the mind is organized; but without addressing these pitfalls, no empirical report will license such exciting conclusions.