One of the first distinctions that an undergraduate psychology student learns is between “low-level,” simple, “merely” perceptual processes, and “high-level,” “true” cognition. This distinction is echoed by philosophers who differentiate sense data from cognitive inferences about sense data. Our research is based on the premise that this distinction is misleading and counterproductive. Perception is far more sophisticated than usually thought… Reciprocally, “high-level” cognition is fundamentally grounded in our perceptual abilities. Even when we strive for disembodied, symbolic abstraction, our cognitive processes retain their connection to perception… Our research is an attempt to build bridges between our perceptual and conceptual systems.
In the Precept and Concept Laboratory at Indiana University, much of the research has explored questions about the nature of the relationship between perception and conception. Perhaps less of a bridge-building exercise than a theoretical kind of alchemy, the results of this work have helped direct a shift in cognitive science from a dualistic either/or approach towards a more holistic both/and one that embraces the rich complexity of synergies among body and mind, sensation and thought, feeling and knowing.
Rob Goldstone | Precepts and Concepts Laboratory: Interactions between perceptual and conceptual learning