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Abstract. When two three-letter words are flashed up in sequence, observers cannot tell whether the top halves of the words are the same or different. It follows that words, like faces, are
 

Summary: Abstract. When two three-letter words are flashed up in sequence, observers cannot tell whether
the top halves of the words are the same or different. It follows that words, like faces, are
processed holistically, not as a set of separate features.
Holistic word processing
Should we think of the brain as a general-purpose computer that can be programmed
and re-programmed to do an almost infinite variety of tasks? Or is it more like a
collection of pre-set modules, each specialized to perform only one particular task,
but to do it extremely well? The task of the visual system is to ask questions of the
environment, and since some questions are probably asked more frequently than
others, it might make sense to evolve `fast, dumb mechanisms' or modules that are
specialized to answer such FAQs. Fodor (1983) proposed that visual modules do exist,
and are characterized by hidden internal workings but obligatory outputs. Examples,
as discussed by Nakayama (2001), include color vision and depth perception. The
workings of color vision are hidden from consciousness, since we are unaware of the
outputs of our retinal cones or of our opponent R/G and B/Y channels. The outputs
from the color module are obligatory, in that we are unable to see a colored scene
as drained of its colors, but perforce see it in full color. Similarly, in stereo vision we
cannot access the view seen by each eye, but the output is obligatory in that we cannot
avoid seeing the depth in (say) a random-dot stereogram.
More to our purpose, there is ample evidence of such modules for (at least) two

  

Source: Anstis, Stuart - Department of Psychology, University of California at San Diego

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine