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Can appearance be so deceptive? Representationalism and binocular vision

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Psychophysical experiments have demonstrated that visual information is used to construct a number of representations of the three-dimensional structure of our environment, and may be used in a variety of specific ways in order to perform perceptual tasks and to control our actions. There remain however important unanswered questions about the nature of these representations and their relationship to perceptual experience. The first question relates to the nature of the representation of depth. While there is broad agreement that multiple representations are involved, there is some disagreement about the exact nature and relationship between these representations.

The second question to be asked is how these representations relate to our perceptual experience. While it has been suggested that experience is associated with activity in the ventral visual pathway, it is argued here that its characteristics are in many ways more closely aligned with those suggested for processing in the dorsal pathway. The final question addressed is whether there exist qualitative differences between monocular and binocular visual processing. It is argued that, while there appear to be no fundamental geometrical differences between monocular and binocular vision, it is possible that binocular vision may possess a quality or vividness that does not supervene on such geometrical properties. By allowing us to pose specific questions of this sort, it is proposed that the study of binocular vision can provide valuable insights regarding representationalist views of visual experience.

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Mary's College, South Street, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JP, UK


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