chapter  4
32 Pages

Perception, motion, and action

James Gibson (1950, 1966, 1979) put forward a radical theoretical approach to visual perception that was largely ignored for many years. It was generally assumed until about 25 years ago that the central function of visual perception is to allow us to identify or recognise objects in the world around us. This involves extensive cognitive processing, including relating information extracted from the visual environment to our stored knowledge about objects (see Chapter 3). Gibson argued that this approach is of limited relevance to visual perception in the real world. In our evolutionary history, vision initially developed to allow our ancestors to respond appropriately to the environment (e.g., killing animals for food; avoiding falling over precipices). Even today, perceptual information is used mainly in the organisation of action, and so perception and action are closely intertwined. As Wade and Swanston (2001, p. 4) pointed out, Gibson “incorporated the time dimension into perception, so that all perception becomes motion perception.”