(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
"cognition" as the skill of dealing with knowledge. Such knowledge
comes from the environment. Rather than trying to understand which information
the mind can process, attention should be paid to which information is
available in the environment. The mind developed to cope with that information.
Neisser, in partial agreement with Gibson, presents an alternative approach to perception which is based on an ecological orientation. Organisms pick up information from the environment. Neisser differs from Gibson in that he argues in favor of directionality of exploration by the organism: the organism is not completely passive in the hands of the environment, but somehow it has a cognitive apparatus that directs its search for information.
Schemata (analogous to Selz's and Bartlett's schemata) account for how the organism can gather the available information from the environment. Between perception and action there exists a direct relation. The schema accounts for adaptive behavior while conserving the preminence of cognitive processes. The organism selects information from the environment based on its anticipatory schemata. "We can see only what we know how to look for". At every istant the organism constructs anticipations of information that enable it to pick it up when it becomes available. Once picked up, information may in turn result in a change of the original schema, to direct further exploration of the environment. Perception is therefore a perennial cycle, from schemata to action (schemata directs action) to information (action picks up information) to schemata (information modifies schemata). Schemata are part of the nervous system.
Perception of meaning also depends on schematic control of information pickup. Perception is not about classifying objects in categories.
The cyclical theory of perception also explains how the mind "filters" the huge amount of information that would exceed its capacity.
An orienting schema of the nearby environment, or "cognitive map", guides the organism around the environment. A cognitive map contains schemata of the objects in the environment and spatial relations between the objects.
Even mental imagery is reduced to perceptual anticipations for picking up useful information. Images are plans for obtaining information.
Perception and cognition transform the perceiver: an organism "is" the cognitive acts it engages in.
Neisser Ulric: MEMORY OBSERVED (Freeman, 1982)
A collection of historical papers on psychological research about memory. Included are Freud, Luria, Stern, Bateson, etc.