What is perception?

How do you recognize things around you?

You recognize things around you by their shape, color, texture, aroma, basically by using your five senses.

Perception is defined as the recognition and interpretation of sensory information. It also involves the process of how we respond to the information. Think of perception as a process where we take in sensory information from our surroundings and use that information in order to interact with our environment.

People tend to confuse sensation with perception. To make it clear for those you don’t see the difference we will take an example. Let’s say you receive a call from an unknown number and your hesitant to answer because you don’t recognize whom it may be but at the same time your curious to know. You answer and immediately recognize the voice of your friend. Even though you did not recognize the number, you heard your friends voice and recognized it as his/her. In this case hearing the voice was considered perception and recognizing it was perception. Sensation is defined as passively receiving information through sensory inputs, while perception is interpreting this information.

Proprioception is the ability for us to be aware of our body’s motions through the five senses. Our senses send their messages to the brain through a process called transduction. This means the information gathered by our senses is transformed into electrical impulses that the brain can understand.

Richard Gregory’s Theory

Psychologist Richard Gregory argued that perception is a hypothesis. When looking at something, we develop a perceptual hypothesis, which is based on knowledge we already have. However according to him, perceptual hypothesis can be disconfirmed by the data we perceive. Through studies he concluded that a lot of the information reached by our eyes is lost by the time it reaches the brain. Therefore it is up to the brain to make an educated guess based on past experiences. Gregory believed that our perceptions of the world are hypotheses based on past experiences and stored information. In conclusion, sensory receptors receive information from the environment, which is then combined with previously stored information about the world, which we have built up as a result of experience.

Supporting Evidence of Gregory’s Theory

  1. Unlikely objects tend to be mistaken for likely objects.
    1. As seen in the video above, the hollow mask of the face seems to be normal when faced to the audience but when it gradually turns around our perception of it changes.
  2. Perceptions can be ambiguous
    1. For example the Necker cube is a good example of this. When you stare at the corners of the cube, the orientation seems to suddenly change. The front face may become the back face and vice versa.
    2. The brain has the ability to perceive two equally hypothesis and is unable to decide between them.



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