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View from the top: hierarchies and reverse hierarchies in the visual system

By Shaul Hochstein and Merav Ahissar


We propose that explicit vision advances in reverse hierarchical direction, as shown for perceptual learn-ing. Processing along the feedforward hierarchy of areas, leading to increasingly complex represen-tations, is automatic and implicit, while conscious perception begins at the hierarchy’s top, gradually re-turning downward as needed. Thus, our initial con-scious percept—vision at a glance—matches a highlevel, generalized, categorical scene interpretation, identifying “forest before trees.” For later vision with scrutiny, reverse hierarchy routines focus attention to specific, active, low-level units, incorporating into conscious perception detailed information available there. Reverse Hierarchy Theory dissociates between early explicit perception and implicit low-level vision

Year: 2002
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