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Figure 3: The effect of starting eye position on saccade programming after Coren The COG bias is evolutionarily adaptive: eye movements will bring both the saccade target as well as nearby objects into high acuity vision, thereby maximizing the amount of information obtained with each saccade. Observers, e.

This influences both saccade length from vertex to vertex as well as the apparent length of the central line segments. We begin by examining J. The actions in question have been acquired by the individual in the course of his life and have been determined by the reinforcing contingencies in the environment in which he grew up. What determines the content of perception is not the properties of the sensory transducers that are operated on by stimulus energies from the environment, but the properties of the behaviour conditioned to those stimulus energies ….

The problem with this assumption, as Mohan Matthen puts it,. The last approach we shall discuss has roots in, and similarities to, many of the proposals covered above, but is most closely aligned with the bold readiness theory. We will follow Grush in calling this approach the disposition theory see Grush , for discussion of the name.

The primary proponent of this position is Gareth Evans, whose work on spatial representation focused on understanding how we manage to perceive objects as occupying locations in egocentric space. The information link by itself does not allow the subject to know the location of this object. Rather, it is when the information link is able to induce in the subject appropriate kinds of behavioral dispositions that it becomes imbued with spatial import:.

The subject hears the sound as coming from such-and-such a position, but how is the position to be specified?

Higher Consciousness

Presumably in egocentric terms he hears the sound as up, or down, to the right or to the left, in front or behind. Evans This is not a version of a motor theory e. The behavioral responses in question are not to be understood as raw patterns of motor activations, or even muscular sensations. Such a reduction would face challenges anyway, since for any location in egocentric space, there are an infinite number of kinematic configurations movements that would, for example, effect a grasp to that location; and for any kinematic configuration, there are an infinite number of dynamic profiles temporal patterns of muscular force that would yield that configuration.

The behavioral responses in question are overt environmental behavior :. It may well be that the input-output connections can be finitely stated only if the output is described in explicitly spatial terms e. If this is so, it would rule out the reduction of the egocentric spatial vocabulary to a muscular vocabulary. But such a reduction is certainly not needed for the point being urged here, which is that the spatial information embodied in auditory perception is specifiable only in a vocabulary whose terms derive their meaning partly from being linked with bodily actions.

Even given an irreducibility, it would remain the case that possession of such information is directly manifestable in behaviour issuing from no calculation; it is just that there would be indefinitely many ways in which the manifestation can occur.


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Also, on this proposal, all modalities are in the same boat. As such the disposition theory is more ambitious than most of the theories already discussed, which are limited to vision.

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The spatial content of auditory and tactual-kinaesthetic perceptions must be specified in the same terms—egocentric terms. There is only one egocentric space, because there is only one behavioural space. Relatedly, for Evans it is not even the case that spatial perceptual content, for all modalities, is being reduced to behavioral dispositions.

Rather, perceptual inputs and behavioral outputs jointly and holistically yield a single behavioral space:. Egocentric spatial terms are the terms in which the content of our spatial experiences would be formulated, and those in which our immediate behavioural plans would be expressed. This duality is no coincidence: an egocentric space can exist only for an animal in which a complex network of connections exists between perceptual input and behavioural output. A perceptual input—even if, in some loose sense, it encapsulates spatial information because it belongs to a range of inputs which vary systematically with some spatial facts —cannot have a spatial significance for an organism except in so far as it has a place in such a complex network of input-output connections.

Evans , fn. This last point and the associated quotes address a common misconception of the disposition theory. It would be easy to read the theory as providing a proposal of the following sort: A creature gets sensory information from a stimulus, and the problem is to determine where that stimulus is located in egocentric space; the solution is that features of that sensory episode induce dispositions to behavior targeting some egocentric location.

While this sort of thing is indeed a problem, it is relatively superficial. Any creature facing this problem must already have the capacity to grasp egocentric spatial location contents, and the problem is which of these ready-at-hand contents it should assign to the stimulus. But the disposition theory is addressing a deeper question: in virtue of what does this creature have a capacity to grasp egocentric spatial contents to begin with? The answer is that the creature must have a rich set of interconnections between sensory inputs and their attendant information links and dispositions for behavioral outputs.

The theory depends on behavioral dispositions. Grush argues that there are two distinctions that need to be made: first, the organism might possess i knowledge of what the consequences bodily, environmental, or sensory of a given action will be; or ii knowledge of which motor commands will bring about a given desired end state of the body, environment, or sensory channels Grush I might be able to recognize that a series of moves someone shows me will force my grandmaster opponent into checkmate knowledge of the first sort, the consequences of a given set of actions , and yet not have been anywhere near the skill level to have come up with that series of moves on my own knowledge of the second sort, what actions will achieve a desired effect.

Sensorimotor contingency theorists appeal to knowledge of the first sort—though as was discussed in Section 2. Disposition theorists, and bold readiness theorists Section 3. These are the dispositions of the disposition theory: given some goal, the organism is disposed to execute certain actions. This leads to the second distinction, between type-specifying and detail-specifying dispositions. Grush maintains that only the latter are directly relevant for spatial perception. A type-specifying disposition is a disposition to execute some type of behavior with respect to an object or place.

For example, an organism might be disposed to grasp, bite, flee, or foveate some object. This sort of disposition is not relevant to the spatial content of the experience on the disposition theory. Rather, what are relevant are detail-specifying dispositions: the specifics of how I am disposed to act to execute any of these behavior types.

When reaching to grab the cup to take a drink type , do I move my hand like so straight ahead, say , or like such off to the right? When I want to foveate or orient towards behavior type the ant crawling up the wall, do a I move my head and eyes like this , or like that? This latter distinction allows the disposition theory to answer one of the main objections to the bold readiness theory described at the end of section 3. That is true of type-specifying dispositions, but not of detail-specifying dispositions.

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Grush ; has proposed a detailed implementation of the disposition theory in terms of neural information processing. The proposal involves more mathematics than is appropriate here, and so a quick qualitative description will have to suffice for more detail, see Grush ; The basic idea is that relevant cortical areas learn sets of basis functions which, to put it very roughly, encode equivalence classes of combinations of sensory and postural signals for discussion, see Pouget et al. For example, many combinations of eye orientation and location of stimulation on the retina correspond to a visual stimulus that is directly in front of the head.

Sorting such bodily postural information not just eye orientation, but any postural information that affects sensation, which is most and sensory condition pairs into useful equivalence classes is the first half of the job. What this does is encode incoming information in a way that renders it ready to be of use in guiding behavior, since the equivalence classes are precisely those for which a given kind of motor program is appropriate.

The next part corresponds to how this information, so represented, can be used to produce the details of such a motor program. For example, when a creature senses an object O 1 , a set of basis function values B 1 for that stimulus is produced. If the creature decides to execute overt action A 1 , then the B 1 basis function values are multiplied by the coefficient corresponding to A 1.

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The result is an instance of behavior type A 1 executed with respect to object O 1. If the creature had decide instead to execute action A 2 , with respect to O 1 , the B 1 basis function values would have been multiplied by the A 2 set of coefficients, and the result would be a motor behavior executing A 2 on object O 1.


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  • On the disposition theory, what allows the user of such a device to have spatial experience is not the ability to anticipate how the sensory input will change upon execution of movement as the sensorimotor contingency theory would have it. To suppose that … the content of intentions can be taken as unproblematically primitive in explaining how the content of experience is possible, is to succumb to the myth of the giving.


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    Hurley The idea behind this objection is that one is simply shifting the debt from one credit card to another when one takes as problematic the spatial content of perception, and then appeals to motor behavior as the supplier of this content. For then, of course, the question will be: Whence the spatial content of motor behavior? As discussed above, Evans explicitly claims that the behavioral space is holistically determined by both behavior and perception.

    As such, they are highly analogous to inferences whose conditions of application are given in sensory-plus-postural terms and whose consequences of application manifest in behavioral terms. The import of the states that represent these basis function values is no more narrowly motor than the meaning of a conditional can be identified with its consequent or its antecedent, for that matter in isolation. Another very common objection, one that is often leveled at many forms of motor theory, has to do with the fact that even paralyzed people, with very few possibilities for action, seem capable in many cases of normal spatial perception.

    Such objections would, at a minimum, place significant pressure on any views that explain perceptual content by appeal to actual behavior. It is also easy to see how even hypothetical behavior would be called into question in such cases, since in many such cases behavior is not physically possible. Since spatial content is taken to be manifested in the production of basis function values in the cortex, the prediction is that any impairments manifesting farther down the chain, the brain stem or spinal cord, for example, need have no direct effect on spatial content.

    So long as the relevant brain areas have the wherewithal to produce sets of basis function values suitable for constructing a motor sequence if multiplied by the action-type-specific coefficients , then the occasioning perceptual episode will have spatial content. We would like to thank Jason Winning for helping to compose the bibliography and proofreading. We are also grateful to Adrian Alsmith, John Schwenkler, and an anonymous referee for comments that resulted in many improvements.

    Early Action-Based Theories 1. Sensorimotor Contingency Theories 2. Motor Component and Efferent Readiness Theories 3. Early Action-Based Theories Two doctrines dominate philosophical and psychological discussions of the relationship between action and space perception from the 18 th to the early 20 th century. Sight not only derives its three-dimensional spatial significance from bodily movement, its purpose is to help us engage in such movement adaptively : …the proper objects of vision constitute an universal language of the Author of nature, whereby we are instructed how to regulate our actions, in order to attain those things, that are necessary to the preservation and well-being of our bodies, as also to avoid whatever may be hurtful and destructive of them.

    As Bain succinctly formulates this objection: In perceiving distance, we are not conscious of tactual feelings or locomotive reminiscences; what we see is a visible quality, and nothing more. Cases in which non-human neonates respond adaptively to the distal sources of visual stimulation imply that external objects are seen to be so…. Sensorimotor Contingency Theories Action-based accounts of perception proliferate diversely in 20 th century. As Bruce Bridgeman writes, Perceiving a stable visual world establishes the platform on which all other visual function rests, making possible judgments about the positions and motions of the self and of other objects.

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    Bibliography Abbott, T. Alsmith, A. Armstrong, D. Atherton, M. Austin, J.

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