Perception and Learning

There’s so much going on “up there.” So much swirling around at night before we fall asleep sometimes, and so much that we are supposed to remember to do, in a specific order, at a specific time.

“Crap! (or expletive) I have an appointment 30 minutes after work tomorrow.  I told Ethel we’d have coffee. Dang it, that project is due in four days.  Did I lock the door? Oh wow, my car payment is two days past due.”

Ok, so maybe this isn’t all of us, but sometimes, it’s me.  When I began reading about Gestalt Psychology and perception, I began to wonder; are we taught in a certain pattern when we’re young in an attempt to keep our brains more organized and clear when we’re older?  The beauty of psychology is that not all brains, genetics, or environment are alike.  But I began to wonder if the laws of proximity, similarity, good continuation, and connectedness are natural, or are they learned? Ah, yes, the everlasting debate- nature vs. nurture.  We’re well aware now that it’s both, but when we’re talking about this topic, perception, is the perception learned or innate? Hmm. If it’s a combination of the two, how do we know to what extent?

Reading about the laws of perception sparked these questions for me.  It’s easy to observe and agree that we tend to group things, categorize things, and connect things, and all for useful purposes.  However, when we look at what our brains often do in a picture of colored dots grouped together, a cluster of parallel lines, or a curved line on top of a straight line that we separate even though they touch.

Back to my original thought: I believe by some force, whether it be learned, innate, evolutionary, or whatever…. that we often think this way for a reason, and that these laws are pretty universal.  Even my scatter-brained self can agree with these laws of perception.  They seem like common sense, but when we analyze them, it can get us thinking.

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