Vision, more than any other sense, dominates our mental life. Our visual experience is just so rich, so detailed, that we can hardly distinguish that experience from the world itself. Even when we just think about the world and don't look at it directly, we can't help but 'imagine' what it looks like. We think of 'seeing' as being a conscious activity--we direct our eyes, we choose what we look at, we register what we are seeing. The series of events (...) described in this book radically altered this attitude towards vision. This book describes one of the most extraordinary neurological cases of recent years--one that profoundly changed scientific views on consciousness. It is the story of Dee Fletcher--a woman recently blinded--who became the subject of a series of scientific studies. As events unfolded, Milner and Goodale found that Dee wasn't in fact blind--she just didn't know that she could see. Taking us on a journey into the unconscious brain, the two scientists who made this incredible discovery tell the amazing story of their work, and the surprising conclusion they were forced to reach. Written to be accessible to students and popular science readers, this book is a fascinating illustration of the power of the 'unconscious' mind. (shrink)
The McCollough effect, an orientation-contingent color aftereffect, has been known for over 30 years and, like other aftereffects, has been taken as a means of probing the brain's operations psychophysically. In this paper, we review psychophysical, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging studies of the McCollough effect. Much of the evidence suggests that the McCollough effect depends on neural mechanisms that are located early in the cortical visual pathways, probably in V1. We also review evidence showing that the aftereffect can be induced without (...) conscious perception of the induction patterns. Based on these two lines of evidence, it is argued that our conscious visual experience of the world arises in the cortical visual system beyond V1. (shrink)
It is our contention that the concept of planning in Glover's model is too broadly defined, encompassing both action/goal selection and the programming of the constituent movements required to acquire the goal. We argue that this monolithic view of planning is untenable on neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and behavioural grounds. The evidence demands instead that a distinction be made between action planning and the specification of the initial kinematic parameters, with the former depending on processing in the ventral stream and the latter (...) on processing in the dorsal stream. (shrink)
O'Regan & Noë run into some difficulty in trying to reconcile their “seeing as acting” proposal with the perception and action account of the functions of the two streams of visual projections in the primate cerebral cortex. I suggest that part of the problem is their reluctance to acknowledge that the mechanisms in the ventral stream may play a more critical role in visual awareness and qualia than mechanisms in the dorsal stream.
Visual systems first evolved not to enable animals to perceive the world, but to provide distal sensory control of their movements. Conscious sight is a relatively recent invention, but its emergence has enabled organisms such as humans and other primates to carry out complex cognitive operations on a detailed perceptual representation of the world. The two streams of visual processing that have been identified in the primate cerebral cortex are a reflection of these two functions of vision. The dorsal 'action' (...) stream projecting from early visual areas to the posterior parietal cortex mediates the visual control of skilled motor acts. The ventral 'perceptual' stream projecting from early visual areas to the temporal lobe provides a perceptual experience of the world beyond our bodies. Both streams work together in the production of adaptive behavior. (shrink)
Hommel et al. propose that high-level perception and action planning share a common representational domain, which facilitates the control of intentional actions. On the surface, this point of view appears quite different from an alternative account that suggests that “action” and “perception” are functionally and neurologically dissociable processes. But it is difficult to reconcile these apparently different perspectives, because Hommel et al. do not clearly specify what they mean by “perception” and “action planning.” With respect to the visual control of (...) action, a distinction must be made between conscious visual perception and unconscious visuomotor processing. Hommel et al. must also distinguish between the what and how aspects of action planning, that is, planning what to do versus planning how to do it. (shrink)
Dijkerman & de Haan (D&dH) propose a convincing model of somatosensory organization that is inspired by earlier perception-action models of the visual system. In this commentary, we suggest that the dorsal and ventral visual streams both contribute to the control of action, but in different ways. Using the example of grip and load force calibration, we show how the ventral stream can invoke stored information about the material properties of objects originally derived from the somatosensory system.
When we reach to pick up an object, our actions are effortlessly informed by the object’s spatial information, the position of our limbs, stored knowledge of the object’s material properties, and what we want to do with the object. A substantial body of evidence suggests that grasps are under the control of “automatic, unconscious” sensorimotor modules housed in the “dorsal stream” of the posterior parietal cortex. Visual online feedback has a strong effect on the hand’s in-flight grasp aperture. Previous work (...) of ours exploited this effect to show that grasps are refractory to cued expectations for visual feedback. Nonetheless, when we reach out to pretend to grasp an object (pantomime grasp), our actions are performed with greater cognitive effort and they engage structures outside of the dorsal stream, including the ventral stream. Here we ask whether our previous finding would extend to cued expectations for haptic feedback. Our method involved a mirror apparatus that allowed participants to see a “virtual” target cylinder as a reflection in the mirror at the start of all trials. On “haptic feedback” trials, participants reached behind the mirror to grasp a size-matched cylinder, spatially coincident with the virtual one. On “no-haptic feedback” trials, participants reached behind the mirror and grasped into “thin air” because no cylinder was present. To manipulate haptic expectation, we organized the haptic conditions into blocked, alternating, and randomized schedules with and without verbal cues about the availability of haptic feedback. Replicating earlier work, we found the strongest haptic effects with the blocked schedules and the weakest effects in the randomized uncued schedule. Crucially, the haptic effects in the cued randomized schedule was intermediate. An analysis of the influence of the upcoming and immediately preceding haptic feedback condition in the cued and uncued random schedules showed that cuing the upcoming haptic condition shifted the haptic influence on grip aperture from the immediately preceding trial to the upcoming trial. These findings indicate that, unlike cues to the availability of visual feedback, participants take advantage of cues to the availability of haptic feedback, flexibly engaging pantomime, and natural modes of grasping to optimize the movement. (shrink)
Vision is so closely identified with visual phenomenology that we sometimes forget that the visual system does more than deliver our experience of the world. Vision also plays a critical role in the control of our movements, from picking up our coffee cups to playing tennis. But the visual control of movement has, until recently, been relatively neglected. Indeed, traditional accounts of vision, while acknowledging the role of vision in motor control, have simply regarded such control as part of a (...) larger function—that of constructing an internal model of the external world. Even though such accounts might postulate separate ‘modules’ for the processing of different visual features, such as motion, colour, texture, and form, in most of these accounts there is an implicit assumption that, in the end, vision delivers a single representation of the external world—a kind of simulacrum of the real thing that serves as the perceptual foundation for all visually driven thought and action. (shrink)
Vision is so closely identified with visual phenomenology that we sometimes forget that the visual system does more than deliver our experience of the world. Vision also plays a critical role in the control of our movements, from picking up our coffee cups to playing tennis. But the visual control of movement has, until recently, been relatively neglected. Indeed, traditional accounts of vision, while acknowledging the role of vision in motor control, have simply regarded such control as part of a (...) larger function – that of constructing an internal model of the external world. Even though such accounts might postulate separate ‘modules’ for the processing of different visual features, such as motion, colour, texture, and form, in most of these accounts there is an implicit assumption that, in the end, vision delivers a single representation of the external world – a kind of simulacrum of the real thing that serves as the perceptual foundation for all visually driven thought and action. (shrink)