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What holds the perception of the world together at its core

Prof. Dr. Melissa Vo, Scene Grammar Lab, Department of Cognitive Psychology
am 25. Januar 2016

When we look around, our environment may seem complex, but its structure follows very specific laws that the human brain apparently learns very early on. Knowledge about the arrangement of objects in space is therefore an important influencing factor for our everyday perception. For example, most objects need a horizontal surface on which they can rest and two objects can hardly exist simultaneously in the same place. Beyond such basic knowledge of physical object properties, we also seem to have very detailed ideas about which objects are usually found where within a particular scene. We call this semantic or syntactic scene knowledge. So you wouldn’t be looking for the milk for your morning coffee under your bed. This lecture explained how certain cognitive knowledge structures and expectations about our world influence their perception and enable us to control both our attention and our actions efficiently. In the spirit of Gestalt psychology à la Wertheimer it will be shown that the perception of our world contains more than just the sum of its parts.

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