Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Barsalou: Perpetual symbol systems

Perception as purposeful inquiry: We elect where to direct each glance, and determine what is encoded within and between glances

Julian Hochberg a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027


In agreement with Barsalou's point that perceptions are not the records or the products of a recording system, and with a nod to an older system in which perception is an activity of testing what future glances bring, I argue that the behavior of perceptual inquiry necessarily makes choices in what is sampled; in what and how the sample is encoded, and what structure across samples is pursued and tested; and when to conclude the inquiry. Much of this is now being hectically rediscovered, but a comprehensive approach like the one Barsalou proposes should help preserve what progress is made.