How we perceive: Gestalt Theory, Marr's Computational Theory and others

How we perceive: Gestalt Theory, Marr's Computational Theory and others

The sensory-perceptual process

Perception is the way in which the brain of an organism interprets the stimuli that come through the senses, forming a conscious idea of ​​the physical reality of its surroundings.


  • 1 Characteristics of perception
  • 2 Perception of the form according to the Gestalt school
  • 3 Laws of Gestalt Theory
  • 4 Theories of perception of form
  • 5 Marr's computational theory

Perception characteristics

  • It is a long process with different parts, need a continuous flow of information And it's something dynamic.
  • Perception necessarily requires stimuliWithout them there is no perception.
  • A hallucination is not a perceptionBecause there is no previous stimulus, it is considered an alteration of perception.
  • The perception is relative (Always take into account individual and contextual differences).
  • A perception depends on the degree of adaptation of the receiver which captures the stimulus at the physiological level.
  • The objective of perception is to get an interpretation of the distal stimulus that is meaningful to us.

Perception of the form according to the Gestalt school

Half of the twentieth century appeared a stream that worked on perception and about the psychology of form. It gave much preponderance to the globality of the stimuli. The Gestalt school.

Recognition of the form before the elements. Bottom-form discrimination.

First we see a figure and secondly we see the second figure that is also printed.

His two general rules They are:

  1. U.S we identify global forms and as a later step we see the elements that form it. The general form has global qualities that are different than the qualities of the elements that form it.
  1. To perceive a form we have to do it differentiate and highlight the background.

The factors that cause perception to vary They are:

  • The motivation
  • Previous instructions
  • Context
  • Expectations
  • Experiences
  • Emotion
  • Culture
  • Individual differences
  • Reward / Punishment

Laws of Gestalt Theory

Proximity Law

We will recognize the elements in the same way because of their proximity to them.

Law of Similarity

We recognize the elements in the same way if those elements look alike.

Law of Good Continuation

Those elements that follow a straight line or smooth curve will be identified as members in the same way.

Law of Common Destiny

We perceive as integrated elements of the same figure those that move in the same direction.

Symmetry Law

We tend to perceive elements that are symmetrical as integrated elements in the same way.

Closing Law

We tend to perceive forms as complete or finished, even if they are not.

Law of perceptual and cognitive distortions

These are false perceptions in which we make incorrect constructions or that do not exist of the real stimulus.

Pregnance Law

The perception is always the best possible, considering all the factors that coexist in the perceptual field at a given time. For the Gestalt PsychologyPregnance is one of its main pillars of simplicity.

The first image uses the elements of composition generate a lower degree of pregnance in the form. The second image is a whole in the form and does not present any distortion in the visual perception, the form is simple, very recognizable, therefore it has a higher degree of pregnance.

According to Gestalt, the perceived form is automatically reproduced. According to him PDL (Information Processing)They say they are steps until we recognize the form.

Theories of perception of form

Template Theory

This theory tells us that we identify shapes through templates: before a stimulus we will attach a template.

We perceive a stimulus and compare it with templates (according to them, we have templates for everything; a fact that is discussed). Templates are created at birth (as was hard to believe, another theory came out)

Prototype theory

He proposes that what we do is compare the stimulus received with templates of categories that we have previously stored in our memory.

Trait Theory

He proposes the idea that we capture a stimulus, we decompose it into isolated features or features (form, function, ...) and from there we compare it with templates of combination of features. For example, one thing (it doesn't have to be a chair) placed in front of a table and we associate it with a chair, even if we don't know what it is.

Marr's computational theory

This theory It is the most important and used today.

The process that follows is:

the representation is built,

2º representation is reorganized,

3º change in the original stimulus. Being within the Information Processing (PDI) are: continuous representations that are abstracted more and more.This third sketch sensitive to shapes, contrasts, brilliance and depth, movement and orientation.

4º outline that is the three-dimensional description is already quite detailed in relation to reality and is what will allow us to recognize that specific form with the name X.