2nd Look

To recognize objects, continuity is an essential aspect of sight. The mind massages imagery to show consistency.

Visual recognition relies upon an interplay of perception of memory. “We create visual objects by integrating features that belong together and maintain object representations in working memory. Objects can slightly change their appearance from moment to moment – due to movement or changed lighting – without changing their identity. As these changes of the world around us are often foreseeable, current object representations can be based on preceding ones,” explains German psychologist Christoph Bledowski.

Spatial context is essential to recognition. “Contextual information helps differentiate among different objects and consequently to integrate information of the same object through time,” says German psychologist Cora Fischer. “The key property of serial dependence is its selective operation between objects with similar contents,” adds Bledowski.

Faces would not be recognizable if memory were perfect. The famous mnemonist Solomon Shereshevsky had tremendous trouble recognizing faces. As his memory housed a great many versions of every face he had ever seen, rather than the rough sketches normally remembered, a change of lighting or facial expression meant a new face.

Shape and coloration are less significant to object recognition than spatial setting. “Spatial and serial position are automatically integrated into an object representation, reflecting the importance of spatiotemporal information for object definitions,” notes Bledowski.

The mind morphs current imagery to correspond with the last snapshot, as well as updating memory to have it appear consistent with the current image. “The slight ‘blurring’ of our perception by memory ultimately leads us to perceive our environment as stable, despite constantly changing due to motion and light changes,” states Bledowski.

Nature – the exhibition of existence – is a mirage of the mind. This is necessarily so owing to the nature of ‘actuality’, which is entirely a symbolic construct fabricated within the mind from sensory data.

Sight illustrates the mental manipulations necessary to turn otherwise incoherent sensations into recognizable patterns.


Ishi Nobu, The Echoes of the Mind, BookBaby (2019).

Ishi Nobu, “The mechanics of existence,” (10 December 2019).

Cora Fischer et al, “Context information supports serial dependence of multiple visual objects across memory episodes,” Nature Communications (22 April 2020).

How mistakes help us recognize things,” ScienceDaily (28 April 2020).