Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Pylyshyn: Vision and cognition

Neurophysiology indicates cognitive penetration of the visual system

Alexander Grunewald a1
a1 Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125


Short-term memory, nonattentional task effects and nonspatial extraretinal representations in the visual system are signs of cognitive penetration. All of these have been found physiologically, arguing against the cognitive impenetrability of vision as a whole. Instead, parallel subcircuits in the brain, each subserving a different competency including sensory and cognitive (and in some cases motor) aspects, may have cognitively impenetrable components.