Cats see things that do not exist, according to research

You do not need to be a cat owner to know that cats like to sit in boxes, especially cardboard boxes. They also like to sit indoors. If there is a circle painted on the floor, the cat is likely to sit right in the middle. A recent study uses this cat habit to find out how cats perceive the world.

The perception is strange. When we see a cat behind a fence, our perceptual system completes the parts of the cat that are not visible. No light from these parts falls on our retina, but they are nevertheless represented, even in the early stages of our perceptual processing.

The following is a well-thought-out example of such integration: the Kanizsa square. There are only four black shapes that look like Pac-Man on the screen, but you see a white square because your visual system fills in the missing illusions. This complement is already present in the primary visual cortex.

These are examples from sight, but such complementation occurs in all sensory functions. Take for example hearing: When we hear a loud click while listening to a melody, the acoustic system continues to represent the melody even when the click is the only thing we hear.

This phenomenon is called non-perceptual integration. Non-perceptual integration is part of our ordinary perception. It is very rare in real life situations to be able to perceive an object without using this tool: In physical scenes, we always have concealment because objects tend not to be completely transparent.

Every time we see an object being hidden from another object (that is, every time we see anything in real life, except for the strange cases of completely transparent visual scenes or very simple visual representations), we use the non-perceptual completion of the hidden parts of the perceived objects. . We can not understand the concept without understanding this tool.

We know a lot about how this works in humans, in part because we can ask subjects if and where they can see illusory outlines. We can not ask the cats. Or any other animal for that matter. So when we study non-perceptual integration in animals, we need some extra tricks.

Here, too, the cat’s infamous habit of sitting in boxes was very useful. Cats like to sit indoors, even if they are just marked on the floor in the form of a painted circle or square. The question is: Do they also like to sit in false enclosures? If there are painted squares on the floor, the cats sit inside them. But what if there are painted shapes like the above Kanizsa square? What are they doing; Do they complete this shape on their own?

The answer seems to be yes. Cats are just as likely to sit in the middle of the inconspicuous square of Kanizsa illusion as they are in the middle of a simple square. This is an elegant way to learn how this tool works for cats – and, consequently, how they perceive the world. In a very real sense, cats see things that do not exist. This is another way in which they are very similar to humans.

Source: www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/psychology-tomorrow/202205/cats-see-things-are-not-there


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