Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience

A special issue of Journal of Intelligence (ISSN 2079-3200).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 July 2023) | Viewed by 15687

Special Issue Editors

Department of Humanities, University of Macerata, 62100 Macerata, Italy
Interests: experimental phenomenology; perception; insight problem solving; opposites; naïve optics
1. Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy
2. Milan Centre for Neuroscience, Milano, Italy
Interests: visual perception; emotions; visual arts; typical and atypical development; human computer Interaction (HCI)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
School of Psychology & Computer Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
Interests: thinking; reasoning; problem solving; creative cognition; metareasoning
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The aim of this special issue is to develop a rich and multifaceted review of the evidence we gain from contemporary psychological research on the relationship between perception and cognition.

This special issue has a key focus on understanding how perception contributes to cognition. It aims to capture current developments in this field, with a particular emphasis on two lines of investigation.

On one hand, it seeks contributions showing how salient characteristics emerging from sensory experience and perceptual organization are relevant to our mental representations, beliefs, language, imagination, evaluations, actions and interactions. On the other hand, we are interested in understanding the way in which reasoners’ perception of their unfolding reasoning process is relevant to joint action control, problem solving, metacognitive judgments and meta-reasoning, at both the individual and group level.

This Special Issue aims to capture current theoretical and methodological developments in these two main areas of enquiry, including but not limited to the following themes:

  • How does perception contribute to categorization?
  • How does language make sense of sensory perceptions (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, taste and smell), and how is perceptual experience reflected in various linguistic configurations?
  • What is the role of perceptual information in joint action coordination, action planning and action recognition in ecological situations (e.g., dancing, individual and group sports and musical performance)?
  • In what ways does perception influence people’s judgments (e.g., aesthetic judgments, numerosity judgments, validity judgments and safety judgments)?
  • To what extent is an account of users’ real perceptual experience important for quality interaction design, both in terms of usability related to cognitive dimensions and in terms of users’ emotional responses?
  • What is the role of explicit cues (e.g., visual feedback) and implicit cues (e.g., perceived fluency or uncertainty feelings) in driving metacognitive control judgments in individual and team-based situations (e.g., joint design tasks, problem solving in group conditions and decision making in emergency response teams)?
  • To what extent is expert and non-expert risk assessment influenced by perceptual information? Is the “perception of the situation” a significant psychological factor for explaining human performance (including accidents and errors) in social-technical systems?
  • What is the place of perception in the cognitive mechanisms that underpin insight (e.g., tacit knowledge, coherence building, impasse and representational change) and in the affective components of the “aha” experience (e.g., failure experience, surprise and certainty)?
  • At how many levels does the incorporation of perceptual features occur in the creative imagination and what are its positive and negative effects on idea production (e.g., the role of examples on design processes and the impact of training based on exploration of perceptual features)?

We encourage the submission of original research and review papers.

Prof. Dr. Ivana Bianchi
Prof. Dr. Rossana Actis-Grosso
Prof. Dr. Linden Ball
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Intelligence is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • perception and categorization
  • perception and language
  • perception and mental representation
  • perception and assessment
  • perception and user experience
  • perception and metareasoning
  • perception and insight problem solving
  • perception and creativity

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 1224 KiB  
Article
Social Understanding beyond the Familiar: Disparity in Visual Abilities Does Not Impede Empathy and Theory of Mind
J. Intell. 2024, 12(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence12010002 - 25 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Feeling with our conspecifics and understanding their sentiments and intentions is a crucial part of our lives. What is the basis for these forms of social understanding? If individuals ground their understanding of others’ thoughts and feelings in their own perceptual and factual [...] Read more.
Feeling with our conspecifics and understanding their sentiments and intentions is a crucial part of our lives. What is the basis for these forms of social understanding? If individuals ground their understanding of others’ thoughts and feelings in their own perceptual and factual experiences, it could present a challenge to empathize and mentalize with those whose reality of life is significantly different. This preregistered study compared two groups of participants who differed in a central perceptual feature, their visual abilities (visually impaired vs. unimpaired; total N = 56), concerning their social understanding of others who were themselves either visually impaired or unimpaired. Employing an adjusted version of the EmpaToM task, participants heard short, autobiographic narrations by visually impaired or unimpaired individuals, and we assessed their empathic responding and mentalizing performance. Our findings did not reveal heightened empathy and mentalizing proclivities when the narrator’s visual abilities aligned with those of the participant. However, in some circumstances, cognitive understanding of others’ narrations benefitted from familiarity with the situation. Overall, our findings suggest that social understanding does not mainly rely on perceptual familiarity with concrete situations but is likely grounded in sharing emotions and experiences on a more fundamental level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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13 pages, 1578 KiB  
Article
Phenomenology, Quantity, and Numerosity
J. Intell. 2023, 11(10), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11100197 - 10 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1171
Abstract
There are many situations in which we interact with collections of objects, from a crowd of people to a bowl of blackberries. There is an experience of the quantity of these items, although not a precise number, and we have this impression quickly [...] Read more.
There are many situations in which we interact with collections of objects, from a crowd of people to a bowl of blackberries. There is an experience of the quantity of these items, although not a precise number, and we have this impression quickly and effortlessly. It can be described as an expressive property of the whole. In the literature, the study of this sense of numerosity has a long history, which is reviewed here with examples. I argue that numerosity is a direct perceptual experience, and that all experiences of numerosity, not only estimations, are affected by perceptual organisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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25 pages, 3566 KiB  
Article
The Perception of Similarity, Difference and Opposition
J. Intell. 2023, 11(9), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11090172 - 24 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1049
Abstract
After considering the pervasiveness of same/different relationships in Psychology and the experimental evidence of their perceptual foundation in Psychophysics and Infant and Comparative Psychology, this paper develops its main argument. Similarity and diversity do not complete the panorama since opposition constitutes a third [...] Read more.
After considering the pervasiveness of same/different relationships in Psychology and the experimental evidence of their perceptual foundation in Psychophysics and Infant and Comparative Psychology, this paper develops its main argument. Similarity and diversity do not complete the panorama since opposition constitutes a third relationship which is distinct from the other two. There is evidence of this in the previous literature investigating the perceptual basis of opposition and in the results of the two new studies presented in this paper. In these studies, the participants were asked to indicate to what extent pairs of simple bi-dimensional figures appeared to be similar, different or opposite to each other. A rating task was used in Study 1 and a pair comparison task was used in Study 2. Three main results consistently emerged: Firstly, opposition is distinct from similarity and difference which, conversely, are in a strictly inverse relationship. Secondly, opposition is specifically linked to something which points in an allocentrically opposite direction. Thirdly, alterations to the shape of an object are usually associated with the perception of diversity rather than opposition. The implications of a shift from a dyadic (same/different) to a triadic (similar/different/opposite) paradigm are discussed in the final section. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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17 pages, 663 KiB  
Article
Sharing Perceptual Experiences through Language
J. Intell. 2023, 11(7), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11070129 - 26 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1186
Abstract
The aim of this article is to shed light on how sensory perceptions are communicated through authentic language. What are the language resources available to match multimodal perceptions, and how do we use them in real communication? We discuss insights from previous work [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to shed light on how sensory perceptions are communicated through authentic language. What are the language resources available to match multimodal perceptions, and how do we use them in real communication? We discuss insights from previous work on the topic of the interaction of perception, cognition, and language and explain how language users recontextualise perception in communication about sensory experiences. Within the framework of cognitive semantics, we show that the complexities of multimodal perception are clearly reflected in the multifunctional use of words to convey meanings and feelings. To showcase the language resources employed, we base our findings on research on how architects convey their perceptions of built space. Two main patterns emerge: they use multimodal expressions (soft, bland, and jarring) and descriptions of built space through motion (the building reaches out, or routes and directions such as destination, promenade, route, or landscape in combination with verbs such as start and lead) in which case the architect may either be the observer or the emerged actor. The important take-home message is that there is no neat and clear a priori link between words and meanings, but rather “unforeseen” patterns surface in natural production data describing sensory perceptions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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Review

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18 pages, 584 KiB  
Review
The Subjective Experience of Autobiographical Remembering: Conceptual and Methodological Advances and Challenges
J. Intell. 2024, 12(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence12020021 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 413
Abstract
The investigation of the phenomenology of autobiographical memories (i.e., how a memory is subjectively experienced and its meaning) has provided an important contribution to our understanding of autobiographical remembering. Over the last two decades, the study of phenomenology has received widespread scientific attention, [...] Read more.
The investigation of the phenomenology of autobiographical memories (i.e., how a memory is subjectively experienced and its meaning) has provided an important contribution to our understanding of autobiographical remembering. Over the last two decades, the study of phenomenology has received widespread scientific attention, and the field has undergone quite relevant conceptual and methodological changes. In the present work, we (1) review some basic and well-established research findings and methodological achievements; (2) discuss new theoretical and methodological challenges, with a special focus on the issue of the phenomenological experience of the retrieval process and its relationship with the phenomenology of the products of retrieval; and (3) propose an alternative way of conceptualizing and understanding it in the framework of experimental phenomenology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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11 pages, 321 KiB  
Review
Gestalt’s Perspective on Insight: A Recap Based on Recent Behavioral and Neuroscientific Evidence
J. Intell. 2023, 11(12), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11120224 - 09 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1976
Abstract
The Gestalt psychologists’ theory of insight problem-solving was based on a direct parallelism between perceptual experience and higher-order forms of cognition (e.g., problem-solving). Similarly, albeit not exclusively, to the sudden recognition of bistable figures, these psychologists contended that problem-solving involves a restructuring of [...] Read more.
The Gestalt psychologists’ theory of insight problem-solving was based on a direct parallelism between perceptual experience and higher-order forms of cognition (e.g., problem-solving). Similarly, albeit not exclusively, to the sudden recognition of bistable figures, these psychologists contended that problem-solving involves a restructuring of one’s initial representation of the problem’s elements, leading to a sudden leap of understanding phenomenologically indexed by the “Aha!” feeling. Over the last century, different scholars have discussed the validity of the Gestalt psychologists’ perspective, foremost using the behavioral measures available at the time. However, in the last two decades, scientists have gained a deeper understanding of insight problem-solving due to the advancements in cognitive neuroscience. This review aims to provide a retrospective reading of Gestalt theory based on the knowledge accrued by adopting novel paradigms of research and investigating their neurophysiological correlates. Among several key points that the Gestalt psychologists underscored, we focus specifically on the role of the visual system in marking a discrete switch of knowledge into awareness, as well as the perceptual experience and holistic standpoints. While the main goal of this paper is to read the previous theory in light of new evidence, we also hope to initiate an academic discussion and encourage further research about the points we raise. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
23 pages, 1725 KiB  
Review
How Metaphors of Organizational Accidents and Their Graphical Representations Can Guide (or Bias) the Understanding and Analysis of Risks
J. Intell. 2023, 11(10), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11100199 - 12 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1567
Abstract
The history of safety science has seen the flourishing of several models and metaphors aimed at describing organizational accidents’ dynamics. Metaphors and their graphical representations are powerful tools to frame risks and adverse events in socio-technical systems; they help in coping with systemic [...] Read more.
The history of safety science has seen the flourishing of several models and metaphors aimed at describing organizational accidents’ dynamics. Metaphors and their graphical representations are powerful tools to frame risks and adverse events in socio-technical systems; they help in coping with systemic complexity but can also become a constraint and even bias the understanding of our environment. This paper aims to investigate how metaphors and their graphical representations influence the comprehension of organizational accidents, how they could be misinterpreted, and, as a result, generate misunderstandings of events. To address these questions, we analyze three paradigmatic accident causation models, typical of three phases in the evolution of models in the last century, describing how the related metaphors and depictions could influence the perception and understanding of risk factors. In addition, we present some possible misunderstandings that could be produced by the metaphor and graphical features of representations, with a particular focus on safety outcomes. Eventually, we provide a framework with the basic characteristics of an effective model and metaphor for the description and analysis of organizational accidents in modern complex socio-technical systems. This framework could be used as a guide for proposing new and more effective models in safety science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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20 pages, 719 KiB  
Review
Grounding Intuitive Physics in Perceptual Experience
J. Intell. 2023, 11(10), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11100187 - 26 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1428
Abstract
This review article explores the foundation of laypeople’s understanding of the physical world rooted in perceptual experience. Beginning with a concise historical overview of the study of intuitive physics, the article presents the hypothesis that laypeople possess accurate internalized representations of physical laws. [...] Read more.
This review article explores the foundation of laypeople’s understanding of the physical world rooted in perceptual experience. Beginning with a concise historical overview of the study of intuitive physics, the article presents the hypothesis that laypeople possess accurate internalized representations of physical laws. A key aspect of this hypothesis is the contention that correct representations of physical laws emerge in ecological experimental conditions, where the scenario being examined resembles everyday life experiences. The article critically examines empirical evidence both supporting and challenging this claim, revealing that despite everyday-life-like conditions, fundamental misconceptions often persist. Many of these misconceptions can be attributed to a domain-general heuristic that arises from the overgeneralization of perceptual-motor experiences with physical objects. To conclude, the article delves into ongoing controversies and highlights promising future avenues in the field of intuitive physics, including action–judgment dissociations, insights from developmental psychology, and computational models integrating artificial intelligence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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Other

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9 pages, 277 KiB  
Opinion
Enhancing Perceptual—Motor Skills in Sports: The Role of Ecological Sounds
J. Intell. 2024, 12(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence12020015 - 30 Jan 2024
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Starting approximately from the beginning of the new millennium, a series of studies highlighted that auditory information deriving from biological motion can significantly influence the behavioral, cognitive and neurophysiological processes involved in the perception and execution of complex movements. In particular, it was [...] Read more.
Starting approximately from the beginning of the new millennium, a series of studies highlighted that auditory information deriving from biological motion can significantly influence the behavioral, cognitive and neurophysiological processes involved in the perception and execution of complex movements. In particular, it was observed that an appropriate use of sounds deriving from one’s own movement promotes improvements in the movement execution itself. Two main approaches can be used, namely the sonification one or the ecological sound one; the former is based on the conversion of physiological and/or physical movement data into sound, while the latter is based on the use of auditory recordings of movement sounds as models. In the present article, some of the main applications of both approaches—especially the latter—to the domains of sport and motor rehabilitation are reviewed, with the aim of addressing two questions: Is it possible to consider rhythm as a Gestalt of human movement? If so, is it possible to build up cognitive strategies to improve/standardize movement performance from this Gestalt? As with most topics in science, a definitive answer is not possible, yet the evidence leads us to lean toward a positive answer to both questions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
10 pages, 487 KiB  
Essay
Illusion as a Cognitive Clash Rooted in Perception
J. Intell. 2023, 11(11), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11110215 - 13 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1441
Abstract
Illusions are important ‘tools’ in the study of perceptual processes. Their conception is typically linked to the notion of veridicality in a dual-world framework, in which we either see the macro physical world as it is (ecological approaches) or we derive a faithful [...] Read more.
Illusions are important ‘tools’ in the study of perceptual processes. Their conception is typically linked to the notion of veridicality in a dual-world framework, in which we either see the macro physical world as it is (ecological approaches) or we derive a faithful representation (cognitive approaches) of it. Within such theoretical views, illusions are errors caused by inadequate sensory information (because of poor quality, insufficient quantity, contradictory, etc.). From a phenomenological stance, however, experiencing an illusion does not relate to the physical quality of the distal or proximal stimulus; rather, it depends on a comparison between the actual perception and what one believes should be perceived given the knowledge s/he has gained about the physical stimulus. Within such a framework, illusions are still considered of extreme importance in the study of the processes underpinning perception, but they are not conceived as errors. They represent instead a cognitive clash between actual perception and hypothesized perception based on some sort of comparison, thus also showing their potential as a tool for studying the underpinnings of cognitive processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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14 pages, 2018 KiB  
Essay
Perceptual Phenomena Cannot Be Approached from a Single Perspective
J. Intell. 2023, 11(11), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11110214 - 10 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1226
Abstract
This article explores the relationship between neurophysiology and phenomenology in the context of ambiguous figures. Divided into three parts, the study investigates new forms of stimulus and experience errors that arise from ambiguous figures. Part 1 discusses the limitations of a single-disciplinary approach [...] Read more.
This article explores the relationship between neurophysiology and phenomenology in the context of ambiguous figures. Divided into three parts, the study investigates new forms of stimulus and experience errors that arise from ambiguous figures. Part 1 discusses the limitations of a single-disciplinary approach and cautions against relying only on neurophysiological explanations for perceptions. A sole reliance on neurophysiological explanations can lead to stimulus and experience errors, as well as to the development of an unfounded mind/body dualism. Part 2 focusses on the stimulus error associated with ambiguous figures. It also shows how the Mona Lisa’s ambiguous expression can cause the experience error. Unlike other forms of ambiguous figures, different expressions of Mona Lisa are perceived when seen in different definitions. It is shown how assigning a higher ontological status to one of the expressions because it aligns with our knowledge of the nervous system, as conjectured by some authors, gives rise to the experience error. Part 3 emphasises the importance of complementing neurophysiological interpretations with phenomenological ones for a better understanding of perceptual phenomena. Phenomenology provides constraints and corrections to neurophysiology, whereas neurophysiology informs phenomenology through empirical findings. The theory of levels of reality is introduced as a framework to underlie the connections and dependencies between different perspectives. Using both neurophysiological and phenomenological approaches, a comprehensive understanding of perceptual phenomena emerges, surpassing the limitations of each discipline. This method encourages a holistic view of perception, where neurophysiology and phenomenology coexist, complementing and enriching each other’s insights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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15 pages, 374 KiB  
Essay
Grounding the Restorative Effect of the Environment in Tertiary Qualities: An Integration of Embodied and Phenomenological Perspectives
J. Intell. 2023, 11(11), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence11110208 - 31 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1137
Abstract
This paper proposes an integration of embodied and phenomenological perspectives to understand the restorative capacity of natural environments. It emphasizes the role of embodied simulation mechanisms in evoking positive affects and cognitive functioning. Perceptual symbols play a crucial role in generating the restorative [...] Read more.
This paper proposes an integration of embodied and phenomenological perspectives to understand the restorative capacity of natural environments. It emphasizes the role of embodied simulation mechanisms in evoking positive affects and cognitive functioning. Perceptual symbols play a crucial role in generating the restorative potential in environments, highlighting the significance of the encounter between the embodied individual and the environment. This study reviews Stress Reduction Theory (SRT) and Attention Restoration Theory (ART), finding commonalities in perceptual fluency and connectedness to nature. It also explores a potential model based on physiognomic perception, where the environment’s pervasive qualities elicit an affective response. Restorativeness arises from a direct encounter between the environment’s phenomenal structure and the embodied perceptual processes of individuals. Overall, this integrative approach sheds light on the intrinsic affective value of environmental elements and their influence on human well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Grounding Cognition in Perceptual Experience)
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