Adaptive Perception

by Manfred Fahle

The constructivist tell us that perception is not just passive, but an active process that interprets the sensory signals. In my understanding, this is exactly what our knowledge about the physiology of sense organs and of the nervous system, especially the cortex would predict, too. Starting from this platform, I would like to venture the hypothesis that perception not only is an active process but one that is permanently modified by (everyday) experience, and that this modification can be quite dramatic and partly subconscious. As an example, I will present some experimental results on prism adaptation, i.e. the adaptation of eye-hand coordination when one wears prisms that shift the visual image sideways.

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