Spatial organization starts out in the eye. We see a scene before us. We see what's in our visual field as well as the top, bottom, left, and right of the field. The retina then creates an image of the scene. This sounds easy enough, but what happens next? The images being seen do not travel to the brain that way. Each part of the scene, the path, grass, rocks, has a corresponding neuron that is transmits the objects into the brain They are broken down into electrical signals in order to be translated by the neurons in the eyes to the regions of the brain so the brain can process them. This reorganization is known as electronic mapping.
In the picture seen here, the brain is mapped according to the visual cortex. Every area marked with a V is receiving electrical messages from different areas in the eye. Some areas translate information from the fovea, which is the main visual field and others translate information from the periphery of the eye. Each piece of a scene is connected to a neuron that then connects to a corresponding neuron in the brain. As explained earlier, you have your central field of vision, top and bottom, left and right. All of these areas need to be calculated into the brain in order for the scene to make sense.
In this quote taken from J.J. Gibson’s book, The Ecological Approach to Perception, Gibson explains that an individual does not merely stand by while life is happening around him. The individual is actively participating in the experience of life. Perception itself is a driving factor in how one comingles with the environment surrounding himself. In the following slides we will discuss Gibson’s theory of ecological approach and affordances.
The ecological approach focuses on studying moving observers and on determining how their movement creates perceptual information that both guides further movement and helps observers perceive the environment (Goldstein, 2014, p154). If you were to walk or drive down a street, it is you who are moving, and everything else in the environment is stationary but that is not what we perceive. Our perception causes our movement to relate to the objects around us and make them appear as if they are flowing towards, then behind us. This movement, also known as optic flow, is what provides the information we need to process how fast we are moving (gradient flow) and where we intend to go (FOE). The other aspect of the ecological approach is information. Optic flow and FOE are considered invariant information. This information is constant to the moving individual. As long as the individual keeps moving, there is flow, and this flow of the environment is what provides the individual with information to keep moving forward. The other kind of information mentioned is self-produced. What is meant by self-produced is exactly that. When an individual makes a movement that movement creates flow information that helps the individual navigate the environment. An example given in the text would be to drive a car. The steering of the car helps to take you where you want to go.
Affordance is another part of Gibson’s ecological approach. Affordance is information that allows the individual to indicate what an object is used for. Not only do we use our vision to see the object and give it physical properties such as height, weight, color, etc. our sense of perception gives meaning to the object. Take the picture as an example. Our eyes see objects that are hard, sturdy, white, black and so on. Our perceptual sense picks up what can be done with these objects in our vision. We perceive that these objects can be used for sitting or they have the potential for action. Just as a car has potential to drive, a bike has potential to ride, even a fork has potential to eat or more correctly be used for eating. Affordances, according to Gibson, are an object’s “possibilities for action.” (Goldstein, 2014, p170) Meaning, our perception of objects is determined by both what the object physical properties are and the way we might interact with it.
The idea that the purpose of perception is to enable us to interact with the environment (Goldstein, 2014, p.169). There have been many studies done involving sports and the players perception of different experiences. The studies were performed before and after the event. Some of the studies gravitated towards a players perception being affected by performance. Players who played poorly viewed the same objects as players who performed well, but their perceptions were different. For example, a study was conducted using softball players. The players who had a high batting average for that game saw the ball as being bigger than the other players who’s averages were lower. These studies help support the idea that perception can be influenced by performance-perception depends on action. Next is an example of action depends on perception. If you were to take two groups of people with one group being dog friendly and the other group fearful of dogs and asked them to enter a room with a dog in it, the group that is fearful would most likely be hesitant. The fearful group is already entering the situation with a perception that would inhibit them from interacting with the dog.
Nicole A Masio
October 19, 2015
Concept of Spatial Organization
How Spatial Organization AffectsVisual Perception
How Perception Influences Behavior
Spatial Organization is
representation of the
imprinted on the retina.
“Perceiving is an achievement of the
individual, not an appearance in the
theater of his consciousness. It is a
keeping-in- touch with the world, an
experiencing of things, rather than a
having of experiences”
Ecological Approach to Perception
▪ Optic flow
▪ Gradient flow
▪ Focus of expansion (FOE)
▪ Invariant information
▪ Self-produced information
Perception of an object
Physical properties of an
What the object can be used
Action Depends on Perception
Perception Depends on Action
▪ Spatial organization is translated into the brain through neurons
▪ Each neuron has its own scene feature which it carries to the corresponding region of
▪ J.J.Gibson was an integral part of visual perception in the psychological world.
▪ Gibson believed in sensation is perception.We can gather enough information from
the environment to keep moving forward
▪ Affordance gives an object purpose past its physical properties
▪ Action can be driven by perception as much as perception can be driven by an action
▪ Goldstein, E. B. (2014). Sensation and perception (9th ed.). Belmont, California: