Like a dutiful embodied cognitivist i believe that what we’re doing affects how we think. Or, on a more mircoscale, that the task we’re engaged in affects the how we process the stimuli we’re sensing. Not just how we process the stimuli in the sense of the parameters of the processes used to deal with it, but that the actual processes themselves alter – and not always in ways we have personal insight into.
So, as part of my duties i was re-reading Goodale & Milner’s (1992) classic paper “Separate visual pathways for perception and action”. They discuss research that shows that motor systems aren’t fooled by various illusions – so that with things like the muller-lyer illusion, our fingers reaching to grab the object are not fooled in the same way as our eyes are fooled in providing us with information on size. They go on to say:
The functional modules supporting perceptual experience of the world may have evolved more recently than those controlling actions within it
But that’s just an aside. The question that jumps out at me is, if the type of response affects stimulus processing, what kind of response is conscious experience?
1. Goodale MA, Milner AD (1992). Separate visual pathways for perception and action. Trends in Neurosciences, 15(1), 20-25.