A&O CLASS NOTES February 18 2020


TUESDAY February 18, 2020


Last week, February 11, these were IDEAS THAT STOOD OUT FOR YOU (from end-of-class check-in mind-maps):

  • Imagination
  • Hallucinations
  • Pareidolia
  • Scotoma
  • Phosphenes
  • Umwelt & peripheral vision


For me, I want us all to have a sense of HOW PERCEPTS come to influence us.   We have looked at nature/nurture issues in the meaning of various kinds of stimuli (“learning instincts”)  but what evolutionary paths can be taken? (we’ll look at RITUALIZATION).

IN ART and SCIENCE we must navigate a balance–sometime precarious–between NOVELTY and FAMILIARITY, while always trying to maintain balance — to kick off an important discussion, take a look at READING: culture and cognition in the light of bias evoked by familiarity versus novelty to frame the main ideas.   We also need a working familiarity with the tension between tradition and innovation[i] and COGNITIVE DISSONANCE relative to HOMEOSTASIS and LEARNING.  Look again at diagram about cognitive dissonance and learning

A key point that keeps emerging (albeit subtly) was the variation in responsiveness to environmental signals—at one extreme end is the “rapid learning” of “instincts” (the behavor may not be “wired” in the brain, but the responsiveness in specific situations nay be: nestlings learning shadows of predators vs family; “bait shyness.”


Other phenomena extreme enough to get a label are pareidolia.

Ambiguous stimuli play right into our motto of the moment “TELL THE BEST STORY YOU CAN WITH THE BEST FACTS AVAILABLE”  … one of the popular models for how DREAMS are conceived (random activity in cerebral cortex interpreted as PERCEPTS and then assembled into the best possible story, even if very weird)


A kind of internally generated percept much more common than dreams or hallucinations are phosphenes: read an  interesting “Amateur Scientist” review about phosphenes: https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-stimuli/https://neilgreenberg.com/ao-note-input-interoception/

So, Be sure you have a handle on PAREIDOLIA (embedded in notes on AMBIGUITY) and SYNESTHESIA

And is your art a version of the EXTRASOMATORY SELF?

TODAY (Feb 18) we should get a DEEPer handle on


PERCEPTION(STIMULI become SENSATIONS become PERCEPTIONS become CONCEPTIONS) …   “their ways in” and “their ways out”  (introduced last week) (“Our visual brain constantly engages in the inferential process of constructing a meaningful and coherent interpretation of the visual world based on retinal images, a process mostly unconscious to the observers.”   (cited from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00589/full )  BUT suppose the origin of the  image is entopic—from within the eye or the brain itself? 


 This emphasis on clincal or extreme examples impies there is a continuum and these are at the far end of it.   You have seen the link to descriptions of several very strange behavioral patterns strongly linked to neurology ( Seven Rare Syndromes ) — NOW we need to learn about Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience with her cerebral hemispheres temporarily separated ……

NEW: someone said I seem to saunter through the material for this class – that’s okay with me given the words origin: to walk slowly to the Sainte-Terre (Holy Land)…


[i]  Th. Kuhn’s “essential tension” between innovation and tradition