Perception & Neurology

Perception & Neurology

Thesis on Neural Processing Period For Visual Perception

In the mid-1970s while working on my experimental thesis on visual perception at CUNY, Brooklyn College, I was fortunate to have taken several courses from both Dr. David Raab and Dr. Elizabeth Fehrer, both doing research on the effects of the masking of visual stimulation in the time domain.

A key source of my knowledge about neurology and its relationship to visual masking and metacontrast phenomena was the extensive set of papers written by Dr. Robert Efron.  See a detailed bibliography of Efron’s work, relevant to this paper, discussed below. With my interest in Dr. Efron’s work, so relevant to the work of my professors at Brooklyn College, I decided to do experimental work and write an experimental review on the topic of backward visual masking  (including metacontrast masking and related visual ‘masking’ phenomena) and relate it to the concept of the neural processing theory, developed by Efron.

My experiment thesis and review, entitled THE NEURAL PROCESSING PERIOD AS THE BASIS OF BACKWARD VISUAL MASKING, were submitted to the Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College in July 1977.   The series of pages under this menu  represent the technical review and analysis portion of that work.


Because the vast majority of papers on visual masking were deliberately written entirely from a behaviorist/positivist point of view, all attempts within academic experimental psychology to find the underlying common principles behind these various phenomena were doomed to both failure and conceptual confusion.

This paper is here reproduced in the hope that readers will see the relevance of the philosophy of science for the proper understanding and interpretation of human reactions to simple laboratory visual stimulus situations.   By deeply studying and utilizing Efron’s work which led him to his brilliant and simple theory of the neural processing period and its importance for understanding sensory perception, I was able to explain virtually all of the major literature on ‘visual masking’ phenomena, thus leading me to a coherent and elegant unified theory of the temporal dimensions of visual perception.

Such is the importance of philosophy to the science of perception.  I believe that my thesis is fully consistent with Efron’s pioneering work (including his theories and experimental program) on the temporal domain of visual and auditory perception.


Dr. Robert Efron, M.D. Published Research on Perception

Dr. Robert Efron, renowned specialist in neurophysiology-biophysics and broadly published expert on the temporal requirements for perception integration and the integration of temporal information by perceptual systems, has published numerous papers based on his originally conceived research on the neural correlates of both visual and auditory perception.  From his extensive research, Dr. Efron has developed some fundamental theories regarding the temporal factors underlying the processing and integration of sensory information for perceptual systems.  Some of his major papers related to this topic (in the visual domain) are:

  1. The Effect of Handedness on the Perception of Simultaneity and Temporal Order, in Brain, 86: 261-284, 1963.
  2. Artificial Synthesis of Evoked Responses to Light Flash, in ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, Volume 138, Article 2, Pages 713,729, May 8, 1964
  3. The Duration of the Present, in ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, Volume 112, Article 1, Pages 292-304, February 6, 1967.
  4. The Relationship Between the Duration of a Stimulus and the Duration of a Perception, (May 20, 1969), published in Neuropsychologia, Vol. 8, pp. 37-55, Pergamon Press, England,, 1970.
  5. The Minimum Duration of a Perception, (May 20, 1969), published in Neuropsychologia, Vol. 8, pp. 55-63, Pergamon Press, England, 1970.
  6. Effect of Stimulus Duration on Perceptual onset and Offset Latencies, in Perception and Psychophysics, 8, 251-254, 1970.
  7. An Invariant Characteristic of Perceptual Systems in the Time Domain, in ATTENTION AND PERFORMANCE IV, Academic Press, Inc., New York, and London, 1973′
  8. Conservation of Temporal Information by Perceptual Systems, in Perception and Psychophysics, Vol. 14, No 3, 518=530, 1973.

Some of Efron’s papers in the area of philosophy of science are:

  1. Biology Without Consciousness — And Its Consequences, in PERSPECTIVES IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, Vol. 11, No. 1, Autumn, 1967.
  2. The Conditioned Reflex: A Meaningless Concept, in International Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 4, No. 5, November 1967
  3. Consciousness: An Irreducible Reality, in International Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 5, No. 3, March 1968
  4. What is Perception?, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, IV, Holland, 1969.

NOTE: {NN} represents the original type-written pages of the thesis.

First Published on April 89,2014

Latest revision:  November 1, 2019 @ 9:26 am

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