It is argued that during ongoing visual perception, the brain is generating top-down predictions to facilitate, guide and constrain the processing of incoming sensory input. Here we demonstrate that these predictions are drawn from a diverse range of cognitive processes, in order to generate the richest and most informative prediction signals. This is consistent with a central role for cognitive penetrability in visual perception. We review behavioural and mechanistic evidence that indicate a wide spectrum of domains—including object recognition, contextual associations, cognitive biases and affective state—that can directly influence visual perception. We combine these insights from the healthy brain with novel observations from neuropsychiatric disorders involving visual hallucinations, which highlight the consequences of imbalance between top-down signals and incoming sensory information. Together, these lines of evidence converge to indicate that predictive penetration, be it cognitive, social or emotional, should be considered a fundamental framework that supports visual perception.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology