Retinal Painting Hypothesis

German physiologist/psychologist Hermann

L. F. von Helmholtz (1821-1894) advanced the retinal painting hypothesis in which anor-thoscopic perception is explained by a conjectured process whereby the extended image of a figure viewed through a moving slit is spread gradually over the retina and imprinted onto it bit by bit, resulting in a retinal imprint of the whole figure whose form, subsequently, is perceived. Typically, anorthoscopic viewing refers to perception of a figure that is revealed one section at a time via a narrow slit behind which the target figure moves. If images - such as simple geometric shapes or letters of the alphabet - are presented in such a fashion, form perception occurs and the shapes of the images are perceived clearly in spite of the absence of any retinal image of the corresponding shapes. Another illustration of form perception without a corresponding retinal image resides in the Kanizsa triangle visual illusion (see Appendix A). The retinal paining hypothesis was discredited, eventually, by studies of eye movements that occur during anorthoscopic perception and that served, largely, to discount Helmholtz's conjectured process. See also APPARENT MOVEMENT, PRINCIPLES AND THEORIES OF; CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY OF PERCEPTION; EYE MOVEMENT THEORY; PATTERN/OBJECT RECOGNITION THEORY; PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

Helmholtz, H. L. F. von (1856). Handbuch der physiologischen optik. Leipzig: Voss.

Rock, I. (1981). Anorthoscopic perception.

Scientific American, 244, 145-153. Fujita, N. (1991). Slit viewing of 3-D objects and non-rigid body: Criticism of the retinal painting theory and the computational theory, and "perception" of unseen parts. Japanese Psychological Review, 34, 61-92.



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