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Human cognition, above all, is a bidirectional process. On the one hand, information from the outside affects our senses: visual, auditory, taste and other receptors. On the other hand, what we perceive is determined by our knowledge, accumulated experience, our needs and attitudes, that is, the readiness to see or perceive something.
Two Classes of Processes
Cognitive psychology – this is the direction that comprehends human cognition in terms of the metaphor of processing data by a technical device – a computer.
It usually speaks of two classes of processing. On the one hand, these are processes that are driven by data – incoming information. On the other hand, processes that are driven by circuits, that is, data that is already stored in the system's memory.
From the point of view of a biological metaphor, which has also become widespread in cognitive studies in recent years, it is usually said of ascending processes unfolding in the direction from the sensory organs through the subcortical structures to the cerebral cortex, and descending processes directed from the cortical areas from the frontal cortex towards the underlying structures.
This may seem rather complicated, but in general you do not need to remember all these details. The main thing is that you understand the very essence of the phenomenon. The accompanying data are just a frame or food for thought for those people who are used to investigating the matter to the smallest detail. In our article, we give a fairly general characterization of the term under investigation. If you want to know more about this, then you have the option to order a full essay on this topic on any essay writing service.
The Helmholtz Theory
The dual nature of our perception had been noticed much earlier than the onset of modern cognitive studies. Even Hermann Helmholtz in the middle of the XIX century, analyzing visual illusions, proposed to distinguish the primary image, which had arisen in his head only as a result of the impact, and the image-representation. That is our knowledge that allows us to identify the object as such.
In the final image, they are linked together. For example, when we see an apple or a house, these processes are completely inseparable from each other. It is quite easy to notice these differences when we are faced with the situations where the impact is the same, and the images can turn out to be completely different, or when our past experience imposes incorrect perception of parameters of the object.
Descending Processes of Knowledge Regulation
In the last hundred years of the development of psychology, construction of dual images was popular. The most famous is profiles and a vase of the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin. We show a human two black profiles on a white background, they can see either two faces facing each other, or a vase, and then they do not see faces. The impact does not change. The famous Dutch artist Maurits Esher often uses ambiguous and physically impossible images successfully processed by our visual system in his paintings.
Optical illusion has become an incredibly common feature for the Internet and many people have specifically looked for similar images to experience this effect. The mistake of perception can have different reasons, in particular, physical and psychological ones. Therefore, optical illusion of sight is studied immediately by two sciences – psychology and physiology of visual perception.
Pictures that use optical illusion have a lot of varieties. One group consists of images specially created by psychologists for the study of the human psyche. These include the Rorschach test. In this case, the properties and state of the intellect are tested, and optical illusion is caused intentionally.
Sometimes an optical illusion is created by people themselves. For example, many of us tried to see the familiar form in the clouds in our childhood. And three-dimensional objects, thanks to the play of light and shadow, create altogether inexplicable illusions. For example, pareidolia. This is a kind of illusion when a normal real object is perceived in a distorted form. Moreover, a whole group of people can see such an optical illusion. It happened one day during a fire in one shopping center. Many people saw an image of evil spirit in the smoke.
Or we can recall the scandalous case described in the press when an image of a human head was found on Mars. Which, however, disappeared when the photo of this area was taken from a different angle. Despite such phenomena, the main group of visual illusion is optical illusions created as entertainment or for training the eyes.
And without dual images, we can commit mistakes of identification only in the light of our readiness and desire to see something. For example, I show you an orange round object. If I keep it in my hands, leaving the fruit shop, you will most likely see an orange. If I keep it in my hands on the tennis court, you will most likely see a tennis ball, although the subject may be the same.
This inaccuracy and underdetermination of external influence is the main condition for including the descending processes of the regulation of cognition, that is, our knowledge, experience and attitudes.
Difficult Conditions of Perception
There are quite a few examples of such conditions, in which downward processes appear. The situation of incompleteness of the stimulus is possible. If a person is slightly obstructed by a chair, you will still see him or her, although the corresponding piece will be obscured on the retina.
Or the situation of a brief presentation, when an object flickers and disappears. The situation when something else appears after it. In psychology, this is termed as a "disguise." This also includes overload situations when there is a lot of information. For example, visual objects change with each other at high speed (as on tabloid treads) or are simply presented in the field of view in large numbers and simultaneously. In such cases, the descending processes of data processing are manifested: for the identification of an object in the absence of complete information about it, a person has to rely on what is already stored in memory.
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