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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
  • Word count: 3448

"With reference to theories of visual object recognition outline the ways in which faces appear to be "special". How might such appearances be deceptive and in what ways does this bear on competing theories".

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“With reference to theories of visual object recognition outline the ways in which faces appear to be “special”. How might such appearances be deceptive and in what ways does this bear on competing theories”.

                Visual perception is an extremely active process in which the perceiver looks beyond the information that is given to construct a vision that can be interpreted and constructed to make sense in the visual world. Many theorists have come up with different ideas of how we perceive objects and recognise them to be what they actually are. Constructivists believe that we perceive things based on our expectations and knowledge of the world and that we are influenced by a hypothesis. This in contradiction compares to the ecological approach, which looks more scientifically at the idea of an optical array. From these initial ideas theorists such as Bierderman and Marr have based their theories of object recognition and constructed such ideas based around how we come to see an object through a series of different stages (Eysenck and Keane, 2001). Through looking at object recognition the question arises ‘are faces interpreted in the same manner or are they recognised differently?’. This question has lead to research based on whether faces are constructed as a structural element or as an image as a whole. These theories will be examined to discover the ways in which faces appear to be ‘special’ and whether how we perceive them leads to misinterpretation in the way that they are processed.

                The concept of visual perception has been widely debated upon. R.L.Gregory looked at the constructivist view and stated that “Perception is not determined simply by stimulus patterns.

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½d sketch and a 3d representation (Reisberg, 2001). The input is the intensity of light from each point of the image on the retina. This input enables us to identify the edges and primitives by flattening out the light intensity to show the image in its individual light. This is what is known as the raw primal sketch. The raw primal sketch is a ‘grey-level representation’ of the object caused by the change of light. This change is caused by different angles and textures changing the intensity causing shadows and brightness allowing an outline of the object to be formed. This follows Gestalt principles as features of similar size and orientation are grouped together. The 2½d sketch involves the group primitives being processed further by making use of the texture, shading and binocular disparity. This provides us with a sense of depth, which is important for the next stage of recognising an object. The final stage that Marr believed to be the visual output was the 3d representation. This draws together all of the previous stages giving the perceiver an overall picture of the object and allows them to recognise it from any viewpoint angle. Marr and Nishihara (1978, as cited in Eysenck and Keane,2001;Page,M, 2003) put forward the idea of using cylinders when describing objects

Fig 2




They proposed that recognising a 3d object involved matching a 3d model against a series of 3d objects stored in memory and that identification of concavities were identified first before anything else. This then gave the basis for the overall object recognition. Overall Marr’s explanation of object recognition does explain how the visual system could work however it operates on a greyscale, monocular level which doesn’t contain enough information to individualise each object.

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Biederman, I.(1987).Recognition by components: A theory of human image understanding.Psychological Review, 94,115-147

Biederman. J,Ju.G.&Clapper.J.(1985).The perception of partial objects.Unpublished manuscript, State University of New York at Buffalo

Bradshaw,J.L.&Wallace,G.(1971).Models for the processing and identification of faces.Perception and Psychphysics, 9 443-448

Bruce, V.&Young.A.W.(1986).Understanding face reconition.British Journal of Psychology,77,305-327

Farah, M.J.(1990).Visual agnosial:Disorders of object recognition and what they tell us about normal vision.Cambridge,MA:MIT Press

Gregory, R.L.(1980).Perceptions as hypothesis.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London

Gibson,J.J.(1950).The Perception of the Visual World.Boston:Houghton and Mifflin

Hubel,D.H. and Wiesel,T.N.(1962).Receptive fields:Journal of Physiology,166,106-154

Marr,D.(1982).Vision:A computational investigation into the human representation and processing of visual information.San Francisco,CA:WH.Freeman

Marr,D.,&Nishihara,K.(1978).Representation and recognition of the spatial organisation of three-dimensional shapes.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society,Series B,269-294

Young,H.W.,Hay,D.C.&Ellis,A.W.(1985)The faces that launched a thousand slips:Everyday difficulties and errors in recognising people.British Journal of Psychology, 76,495-523

Internet Sources:

Fig3. www.essex.ac.uk/psychology/visual/thatcher.html

Directly consulted sources:

Eysenck,W.and Keane,T.(2001).Cognitive Pychology-A Students Handbook.Psychology Press

Biederman (1987)

Marr (1982)


Marr and Nishihara (1978)

Gross,R.(2001).The Science of Mind and Behaviour(4th ed).Hodder and Stoughton

Bradshaw and Wallace (1971)

Farah (1994)

Gibson (1966)

Gregory (1966)

Young, Hay and Ellis (1985)

Levine,M.W.(2000).Fundamentals of Sensation and Perception(3rd ed).Oxford

Gibson (1966)

Page.M.(2003).Lecture Notes.University of Hertforshire

Biederman (1987)

Marr and Nishihara (1978)

Tanaka and Farah (1993)

Reisberg,D.(2001).Cognition(2nd ed)Exploring the science of the mind.W.W.Norton and Company

Biederman (1987)

Sekuler,R.and Blake,R.(1950).Perception(3rd ed),McGraw-Hill Inc

Gibson (1963)

Hubel and Wiesel (1950)

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