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Seeing what you believe ? Coloured shapes and other cases

Dr. Ophelia Deroy

Thursday, October 28, 2010, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and New York University

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Having learned that hearts are red, and bananas yellow, we are more ready to perceive heart shapes as red and banana shapes as yellow (Delk and Fillenbaum, 1965 ; Hansen et al. 2006 ; Olkkonen at al., 2008). These effects on perception are difficult to measure and to explain. They vary from one object to another : in tested conditions, hearts and apples will look more red, but squares reflecting the same wavelength won't. Does this "object-sensitivity" of colour perception suggest that the effect is shaped from outside, by higher cognitive processes where the information about shapes and colours are stored together? I discuss these cases and other examples of object-sensitivity in perception. Contrary to Siegel or McPherson, I don't think that these cases give us good reasons to discard the idea that perception is cognitively impenetrable. I offer an alternative account in terms of semantic cross-modal effects, which helps us understand the nature of multi-sensory integration and top-down influences on perception.

Dr. Ophelia Deroy