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Running head: PERCEPTUAL AWARENESS IS A PHENOMENON UNTO ITSELF
Modularity of Perceptual Awareness Nancy Dong 997496482 University of Toronto
these evidences indicate that perceptual awareness must be created by a distinct module and is a phenomenon unto itself. we are still unable to recreate perceptual awareness in machines. Furthermore. despite successes in replicating our sensory systems in mechanical and electronic terms. Together. our present understanding of the sensory pathways show that they are responsible for increasingly pattern and feature analysis of the ascending sensory signal. but none of which can account for the entirety of our sensory experience. Finally. .Perceptual Awareness is a Phenomenon unto Itself Abstract An examination of the existing psychological & physiological research in perception and our attempts to create "sentient" machines demonstrates the modularity of perceptual awareness as a distinct phenomenon. created independently of the sensory pathways. it can be seen from psychological studies on inattentional blindness and the phonemic restoration effect that perceptual awareness can exist independently of sensory stimuli from the environment. To begin with.
that it exists above mere reception of environmental stimuli. where the mechanism with which it turns environmental inputs into sensory outputs is best left as unknown. suggesting that there must be something "special" that is unique to us as living organisms. In the first case. nearly half of the participants were completely unaware of a gorilla who walked in amidst the players during the game. Speech perception is an example of the latter. The other experiment. is the fact that we often can be unaware of something that is blatantly obvious or perceive something that is not present in the environment. we have an awareness that we have of the world around us. a black box still remains between the electrical signals produced by our sensory organs and our awareness of the world around us. unlike machines. when we focus on a particular part of our surrounding we become automatically unaware of everything else until something causes us to shift our attention elsewhere. However. in which they asked participants to count the number of basketball passes in a video of a game. After several decades of psychological and physiological research. This occurs every moment of our day.Perceptual Awareness is a Phenomenon unto Itself The computational philosophers of the 1950s and 1960s believed that the human brain can be likened to a computer that produces the appropriate outputs to whatever input we receive from the environment. More dramatic demonstrations of the more than occasional disconnect between the world we perceive and what is really present in the world are given in two psychological studies. even they could only represent the brain with a black box. The first experiment is done by Simon & Chabris. where we perceive all of the phonemes of spoken words when in reality they are neither all nor properly pronounced. but independently of the sensory modalities. done by Richard Warren in 1970. The most obvious indication of the modularity of perceptual awareness. which sought to demonstrate the phonemic restoration effect found that none of the participants noticed a missing phoneme in a recorded . The most obvious answer that comes to mind is that. An examination of the existing psychological & physiological research in perception and our attempts to create "sentient" machines show that this perceptual awareness is in fact a distinct entity that is produced from.
and etc. Moving beyond into higher cortical layers. these receptive fields are organized into linear fields for simple cells to detect edges. the world we perceive is not a collection of moving edges and tones of various duration and pitch. awareness is an emergent property that arises from the total set of sensory information we process at any one time. to detect moving sources and changes in frequency. Seen this way. As they also are meant to illustrate the effect of attention and contextual knowledge on our perception. among many other types of possible elemental sensory information. However. the module that gives rise to perceptual awareness must exist beyond the various association areas of each modality to incorporate higher knowledge and experience into sensory data to create our perception. it also needs to be shown that mere sensory inputs are not enough to result in our awareness of the external world. These two studies demonstrate that perceptual awareness can occur quite independently from environmental input. that is somehow much . Now we know that in the long path between the sensory organs and the cortical region devoted to each modality. and finally hypercomplex cells to detect edges that are moving in a particular direction. and thus cannot arise from cells in the sensory pathways alone. While perceptual awareness can exist independently from sensory inputs. there are binocular depth cells that respond to a specific amount of absolute disparity and other types that respond to zero disparity for depth detection.Perceptual Awareness is a Phenomenon unto Itself sentence. In the visual system. Then up in the primary visual cortex. photoreceptor signals are first organized into centre-surround receptive fields at the retinal level to detect spots of light of specific sizes. Same in the auditory system. The sensory pathways are engaged in increasingly sophisticated feature detection and signal processing that render the external world internally accessible. complex cells to detect edges of a particular orientation. where cortical auditory cells moves beyond simple frequency detection to creating new responses such as the ON-OFF response to end cap a tone. there are increasing convergence and organization of signals that extract increasingly complex features and patterns from them. Physiological research has shed much light upon the parts of the brain involved in processing sensory stimuli and their various functions.
Like us. unlike us.Perceptual Awareness is a Phenomenon unto Itself more than their sum. Patients who have suffered brain damages are often used in perception research to examine what effects the loss of a brain function can result in. describe and identify objects in the environment to brain damaged patients that have their sensory pathways intact but a non-functioning "perceptual awareness" module. in the first device described. these "brain damaged" patients show that perceptual awareness does not come naturally from receiving sensory stimuli and that the fundamental difference between human and machine is at least partially accounted for by our possession of a "perceptual awareness module" that gives rise to the special phenomenon of perceptual awareness. . these machines and devices can detect stimuli from the environment and give the programmed appropriate response. they are not "aware" of these stimuli and the world in the sense that we are. Robots are designed with algorithms and programs that can calculate tau and object distance. so that they can have a semblance of being able to come into contact with an object and interact with it. we can liken the machines and devices that we have create to locate. Thus. So a separate mechanism or structure. we equipped these machines with "sensory organs" that mirror our own. However. which would be required to communicate the state of lacking perceptual awareness to a researcher. must be present to gel these components together into perceptual awareness. such as "awareness cells". Since perceptual awareness is such a fundamental property of our consciousness. and the very likely fact that "awareness cells" are distributed through the brain. and the automated telephone directory would have a device that is differentially activated by different sound waves and match them to programmed patterns in order to identify them. there probably does not exist such patients that can be studied in any useful way. such as opening the door when a person approaches it or recognizing a person's speech in order to direct them to a particular phone number. In order for them to perform automated actions. there would be a sensor that detects the presence or absence of light like our photoreceptors. like the robotic puppies sold as toys. So instead.
it is not likely that it would be found in a discrete region but rather distributed throughout that serves to integrate every modality. Perceptual awareness must be a distinct entity as it stands above the sum of all the sensory stimuli we perceive and often exist without them completely. . While perceptual awareness must be created by a distinct construct in the brain. and our own attempts in recreating awareness in inanimate objects show that there is an yet unbridgeable gap between the substrates of perception and actual awareness of them.Perceptual Awareness is a Phenomenon unto Itself Existing psychological and physiological research. It is also what separates humans from machines despite sophisticated attempts to and success in replicate the sensory organs' function in electronic and mechanical terms.
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