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Fechner, information, and shape perception
21.05.2021 Joseph S. Lappin, J. Farley Norman & Flip Phillips
Gustav Fechner Gustav Fechner

Spatial vision is so marvelously effective that usually it is taken for granted. We perceive environmental objects but not the visual instrument by which they are revealed. Spatial vision pervades our conscious experience, but our understanding of the underlying visual mechanisms has substantial gaps.

Gaps in understanding occur especially at the interfaces between visual subsystems, where information is transferred from one physical and spatial format to another. How does vision transcend vast changes in format—involving 3-D objects and spaces, 2-D optical images, neural spike trains and synaptic interactions in multiple neural areas, conscious perceptions, and behavioral actions? How do immaterial knowledge and experience arise from material objects and events?

The present article offers a theoretical framework for addressing these issues—based on the concept of information, involving corresponding relational structures in physically separate domains. We describe criteria for identifying and evaluating structural correspondence and then apply these criteria to research on shape perception.
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