Together with Michael Dambacher, Martin has submitted a comment on the recent theoretical paper “Cognition does not affect perception: Evaluating the evidence for ‘top-down’ effects” by Chaz Firestone and Brian Scholl (Yale University). The comment has now been accepted for publication. It will appear along with a number of other comments and a response by the authors in a (hopefully not so long in the) future issue of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Firestone & Scholl asserted that—for all we know based on current evidence—perception must be considered impenetrable by cognitive top-down influences. We challenged the authors to a rigorous and useful definition of what qualifies as perceptual to begin with. Without that, any attempt at an isolation of top-down effects on perception will be futile. In our view, the dividing line between perception and cognition is hard to maintain at the physiological level, nor does phenomenology help settle the debate about the putative modularity of perception. We argue instead that the distinction between perception and cognition can be attained at the functional level. We used the occasion to exemplify how this approach facilitates empirical studies that try to scrutinize putative interactions between judging and perceiving.
A pdf of the commentary will soon be available here.