Perception and Cognition: Top-Down Influences in Perceptual Experience

University of Glasgow, 8–9 September 2015

The Rethinking the Senses project is pleased to announce a research-intensive interdisciplinary workshop on the subject of Perception and Cognition: Top-Down Influences in Perceptual Experience to be held on the 8th and 9th of September at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience.

This event will aim to address two distinct, but closely connected, issues in contemporary philosophy and science of perception: (i) the distinction between, on the one hand, perception or perceptual experience, and, on the other, cognition or thought; and (ii) the mechanisms for, and degree to which, the latter influences the former; i.e. cognitive penetration and other top-down effects.

The workshop will combine presentation of some of the latest philosophical and scientific research on these topics in a way that aims to make genuine progress on these important and interconnected issues, as well as to draw out the implications of this research for the philosophy and science of perception. The workshop will conclude with a roundtable discussion between participants.

Topics covered will include:

  1. How we should differentiate perceptual experience from higher-level cognitive states, such as thought and belief, and is this a sharp distinction or a matter of degree?
  2. Can the content of higher-level cognitive states influence the phenomenal character of perceptual experience, and, if so, by what mechanism(s) does this take place?
  3. Do top-down effects influence non-perceptual states such as emotions, and can top-down influences other than cognitive penetration similarly affect perception or other states?


All talks will take place in the Reid Room, Level 4, 67 Oakfield Avenue (entry via 69 Oakfield Avenue).

Registration, breaks and lunches will be in the Philosophy Common Room, Level 3, 67 Oakfield Avenue.

Day 1, Tuesday 8th September

  • 9.30–9.55: Registration, tea & coffee
  • 10.00–10.30: Fiona Macpherson, University of Glasgow
    Welcome and introduction

Session 1: The Perception–Cognition Boundary

  • 10.35–11.50: Jacob Beck, York University
    ‘Marking a Perception–Cognition Boundary’
  • 12.10–13.25: Jack Lyons, University of Arkansas
    ‘Belief and Perception’s Upper Bound’

13.25–14.25: Lunch

Session 2: Is Vision Cognitively Penetrable?

  • 14.25–15.40: Christopher Mole, University of British Columbia
    ‘When is Visual Receptivity Cognitive?’
  • 16.00–17.15: Nico Orlandi, University of California, Santa Cruz
    ‘Cognitive Penetrability in Vision: There is no such thing (but perception is still biased)’

18.00: Drinks at The Ubiquitous Chip

19:30: Dinner at The Ubiquitous Chip Brasserie

Day 2, Wednesday 9th September

Session 3: Imagination and Memory

  • 9.45–11.00: Lars Muckli, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow
    ‘Brain Imaging of Top-Down Internal Models’
  • 11.20–12.35: Anya Hurlbert, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University
    ‘Colouring-in Objects from Memory: How much does prior experience influence immediate perception of object colour?’

12.35–13.35: Lunch

Session 4: Temporal Perception and Attention

  • 13.35–14.50: Steven Gross, Johns Hopkins University
    ‘Cognitive Penetration and Temporal Perception’
  • 15.10–16.25: Dustin Stokes, University of Utah
    ‘Attention and the Cognitive Penetration of Perception’
  • 16.45–17.30: Roundtable discussion

18:00: Drinks at Stravaigin

19:30: Dinner at The Left Bank

Further information

Please note that registration for this event has now closed. For further information, or if you have any questions concerning this event, please contact the event organiser, Keith Wilson.


This event is made possible through the generous support of

AHRC logo

Scot Philosophical Association Logo

CSPE LogoCentre for the Study of Perceptual Experience
University of Glasgow