Compare and contrast theories of perception which emphasize ‘top-down´ processing against those which emphasize ‘button-up´ processing. How useful is this distinction in the study of perception? Perception is a controversial and complex area of study in psychology. For decades, researchers have aimed to gain a better insight into what characterizes perception, how it takes place and what the main factors influencing this process are. The results generated come from different theories which have emphasized the importance of either bottom-up or top-down processing as having a direct impact on how individuals perceive the world. Although both processes have been commonly seen as independent from each other and the separate contributions of bottom-up and top-down theories are undeniable; considering just one of them as the most important one in perception has been highly debated. Furthermore, the dynamic interactions between bottom-up and top-down processes shown in different studies emphasize the complexity of this topic and the processes by which individuals make sense of the world. This essay will offer research evidence for and against these main approaches and critically discuss their contributions and the extent to what this distinction has been useful to the study of perception. Perception refers to the cognitive processes involved in recognizing, analyzing and organizing sensory information and the importance of this sensory input has been debated. Psychologists have taken different approaches to perception such as distinguishing whether its goal is recognition or action. Although there is evidence suggesting that these processes involve different neural mechanisms, they cannot be considered as completely independent (Pike and Edgar, 2010). Another distinction focuses on the direction in which the information flows through the perceptual system; some approaches emphasizing the importance of the sensory input while others focusing on the stored non-visual...
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