Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Perceptual Organization: Vision
James R. Pomerantz & Mary C. Portillo
Perceptual organization is part of the process by which sensory data collected by our receptors is combined and integrated into structured, organized percepts. The eyes signal information about the light around us, but humans do not consciously experience these separate pieces of information—we don't see countless patches of color from the wavelengths registered by our cones. Instead, we see whole objects and surfaces smoothly integrated into scenes. These wholes are the products of perceptual organization. Sometimes these integrations contain surprises, where the whole pattern may be strikingly different from the sum of its parts: an artist draws a few curves on the canvas and a face emerges; or a set of black dots comprising a newspaper photograph combine into a rich scene; or three black disks with wedged-shaped notches yield the perception of a white triangle (see Perceptual Segregation , Figure 2 ). Such novel wholes are called gestalts . ...