Different modes of visual organization for perception and for action

Melvyn A. Goodale, Tzvi Ganel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The visual control of action is a critical ability for interacting with the visual environment. Visual perception, however, is necessary for recognizing and memorizing different aspects of this environment. According to an influential proposal by Goodale and Milner, these two distinct visual functions are mediated by different cortical areas. The ventral visual stream mediates perception and the dorsal stream mediates the visual control of action. In this review, we focus on behavioral evidence looking at potential differences in the principles governing visual organization for perception and action. We propose that, unlike visual perception, which is largely governed by relational and Gestalt representations of objects, visually-guided action treats objects in a more analytic fashion. We review evidence from visual illusions, studies of object–shape perception, and psychophysical studies of visual resolution of size to support this idea. We conclude that the visual perception of objects and their relations tends to be holistic and contextual in nature, whereas the visual control of skilled actions is more analytical, circumscribed, and tuned to the real metrics of the visual environment.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organization
EditorsJohan Wagemans
PublisherOxford University Press
StatePublished - 2015


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