Gestalt Models for Data Decomposition and Functional Architecture in Visual Neuroscience

Gestalt Theory 35 (3) (2013)
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Attempts to introduce Gestalt theory into the realm of visual neuroscience are discussed on both theoretical and experimental grounds. To define the framework in which these proposals can be defended, this paper outlines the characteristics of a standard model, which qualifies as a received view in the visual neurosciences, and of the research into natural images statistics. The objections to the standard model and the main questions of the natural images research are presented. On these grounds, this paper defends the view that Gestalt psychology and experimental phenomenology provide a contribution to the research into perception by the construction of phenomenological models for an ecologically meaningful interpretation of the empirical evidence and the hypothetical constructs of the natural image research within the visual neuroscience. A formal framework for the phenomenological models is proposed, wherein Gestalt theoretical principles and empirical evidence are represented in terms of topological properties and relationships, which account for the order and structures that make the environment accessible to observers at a relevant behavioural level. It is finally argued that these models allow us to evaluate the principles and the empirical evidence of various natures which are integrated from different fields into the research into perception, and in particular into visual neurosciences.
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