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COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY - Essay Example

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Analyse and evaluate the role played by top-down factors in both visual and auditory misperceptions. Please refer to relevant empirical evidence in your answer. Top-down factors are considered very important in the cognitive psychology of perception. Top-down theories suggest that what is already in the mind (what people are thinking) greatly influence the way that something is perceived to that individual…
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COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
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Download file to see previous pages Of course, it is always possible that what is known can greatly influence the way something is perceived to such an extent that it becomes a misperception. Visual and auditory misperceptions have been studied widely in the literature, as they illustrate not only how something can be misperceived due to top-down factors but can shed some light on how perception relies on these factors also. A variety of empirical evidence will be used to evaluate the role that these top-down factors have in perception, focusing mainly on visual and auditory misperceptions. One of the most widely studied examples of the way that top-down factors have a role in misperceptions are illusions. Optical illusions are often used as fun examples of how the mind can trick us, but they also have a huge role in cognitive psychology. Illusions are good because they show how the mind follows certain rules and places certain constraints on perception, and how top-down factors cause the brain to have a bias towards perceiving certain things (Eysenck & Keane, 2005). In everyday life, these are usually correct and can help us to identify objects that have never been perceived before accurately and simply. Without these rules, there would be no perception in the sense we understand today. However, when these rules are applied in a different sense to that which they would usually be employed misperception or illusion results. Misperceptions can be found within all sensory systems, although visual and auditory are the most researched and understood. Sometimes, a healthy individual can briefly mistake one object that is known for another. The research by Summerfield, Egner, Mangels & Hirsch (2006) investigates the reaction of the brain during these occasions using functional magnetic resonance imaging to understand the neuroscience behind this. The interesting part of this research is that Summerfield et al (2006) manipulated images of houses and faces to such an extent that they could be realistically mistaken for the other. This may seem ridiculous, as houses and faces are two very different structures that could not easily be mistaken for each other in reality. This is an example of a top-down factor; we think that it would be impossible to mistake a house for a face (or vice versa) because of the rules and regulations put in place in the way that objects are perceived. However, this research showed that at a certain level of degradation, this misperception can easily occur. This misperception occurs even in psychologically normal patients. Top-down factors associate some areas of the image with a house or a face and the medio-frontal and right parietal regions of the brain make assumptions based upon what is already known and help the individual perceive. Faces themselves are also victim to visual misperception. Research by Leopold, Rhodes, Muller and Jeffery (2005) has shown that top-down factors can lead to perceived identity and expression. In this case, what is known about individuals that are familiar is applied to individuals that are not, and thus misperceptions occur. The brain here is suggesting that someone with similar visual appearance to an individual must be that individual. Again, this is an example ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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