A Sensorimotor Account of Vision and Visual Consciousness article published in 2001 characterizes perception as an inactive view. In this paper the authors create a landmark for “sensorimotor contingency theory” of perceptual experience and provide ways of means for the future theories.
The experience of perception has been largely debated and somehow though differently according to the different disciplines. O’Regan and Noë attempt to halt the confusion by portraying perception as an ability that not only depends on, but is constituted by possession of sensorimotor knowledge. The writers attempt to separate the notions of ‘sensation’ and ‘perception’, concepts that have been viewed interchangeable. According to the theory perception is a skill that needs to be acquired. For instance Held and Hein’s (1963) “The Kitten Carousel Study”, which investigates the role of experience in perceptual-motor development. The research showed that visual experience is tightly related to movement. More evidence for this theory is provided by Muller Lyer Illusion. The illusion seems to only work with people that live in straight edge environment.
Reading the article it becomes apparent that human beings “learn” to perceive from their environment. While learning from the environment has been a well accepted and well studied for instance by the school of behaviourism, it seems somehow contemporary in a field of perception. Because perception has been identified as a natural occurring phenomenon, for example senses such as hearing or “seeing”, which are of course building blocks of perception. What O’Regan and Noë are attempting to highlight is that it is not enough posses the senses, one must learn to apply the through experience.
This has led me thinking, can some people be better at perception than others?..Is there such thing as “better” at perceiving? My curiosity has brought me to some interesting web pages of how to “improve perception”. Of course they do not hold any relevance to O’Regan and Noë’s sensorimotor contingency theory, unfortunately. For example “How to Control Your Perception of Time So You Can Be Happier” article by Alyssa Gregory or “Who Do You Think You Are? Your Perception Creates Your Reality” by Phil Mancuso. Both examples focus more on “mental” perception rather than physical. However one may argue that mental faculties are derived from physical environment!
Another argument would be do certain occupations allow development of perception. For example artists may learn to perceive better through the experience of creativity. Here is another question how is creativity related to perception..?
This theory certainly leads to many curious questions and pondering