Sunday, July 18, 2010

Samir Zeki's laws of the visual brain

Rendering of human brain.Image via Wikipedia
Samir Zeki's laws of the visual brain:
  1. Constancy:  Despite the changes that occur when processing visual stimuli (distance, viewing angle, illumination, etc.), the brain has the unique ability to retain knowledge of constant and essential properties of an object and discard irrelevant dynamic properties.    Similarly, a work of art does likewise.   Forms do not have an existence without a brain and the capacity for stored memory
  2. Abstraction:  Abstraction is the the hierarchical coordination where a general representation can be applied to many particulars, allowing the brain to efficiently process visual stimuli.  Art externalizes the practices of abstraction in the brain
Ramachandran proposes a series of heuristics that artists use consciously or unconsciously utilize to optimally stimulate the visual ares of the brain:
  1. Peak shift Principle:  In Peak Shift training,  animals respond better to exaggerated versions of the training stimuli.  Artists try to capture the essence of something to evoke a direct emotional response through  exaggerating such elements as shading, highlights, illumination, etc. 
  2. Isolation:  Isolating a single visual cue helps an animal direct its attention to allow itself to respond to a peak shift.  There is a need to isolate the desired visual form before that aspect is amplified.  This is why a sketch sometimes maybe more effective than a photograph, ie as in a cartoon.  The different enhancements to physical objects that intensify the pleasure of viewing result in the amplification of limbic system (the center of emotions in the brain) activation and reinforcement.
  3. Grouping:  Various means of grouping objects are used to delineate objects from the background.  Some of the techniques that we use in observing objects may have been genetically programmed from our early days when we had to be able to distinguish predators from a busy background, especially when a predator uses camouflage.  This occurs most efficiently when limbic reinforcement is fed back to early vision at every stage of visual processing leading up to the discovery of the object.   Constant emotional feedback helps the information discovery at each stage of a clue.
  4. Contrast:    Contrast is another means of eliminating clutter and focusing attention.
  5. Perceptual Problem Solving
  6. Visual Metaphor
  7. Symmetry
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