Sensory Classification: The View from Psychology

Mohan Matthen

in Seeing, Doing, and Knowing

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199268504
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602283 | DOI:
Sensory Classification: The View from Psychology

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Descartes realized that the retinal image would have to be transformed into Amovements of the brain@ and then into ideas before it could become material for sensory or mental operations; he discovered what today is called Atransduction@. The current neurocomputational paradigm goes further: it sees sensory systems as processing transduced signals in the search for the occurrence of specific events or conditions and discarding all information irrelevant to these. When a particular feature is detected, the system enters into a characteristic state: for instance, a neuron might fire to signal the detection of a particular feature. A perceiver gains access to this event through a conscious sensation, which is in no way an image or picture. The features that a system detects in this way are often objective characteristics of external things. This opens the door to realism with respect to sensory classification.

Keywords: classification; Descartes; feature maps; realism; sensory data processing; similarity; single neuron studies; visual attention; W. V. O. Quine

Chapter.  11853 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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