The Perceptual System And Evolutionary Value Of Multimodal Integration Essay

The Perceptual System And Evolutionary Value Of Multimodal Integration Essay

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Bayesian approach to multisensory integration appears to be very credible and well supported that it might seem bizarre that there are alternative accounts attempting to explain the same process. However, when looking back at the purpose of the perceptual system and evolutionary value of multimodal integration, Bayesian account becomes problematic, to say the least. Firstly, as aforementioned, the purpose of the sensory nervous system is to gather information provided by the environment, and the efficiency of this process largely determines the survival of an organism. The efficacy of perception is determined by the time and energy required to compute the final percept as well as the cost of computational errors (Hoffman, 2009). Just as any other process, information processing does come at a temporal and energetic cost. Indeed, recent findings suggest that considerable amount of neuronal energy consumption is associated with information processing, therefore, neural tissues favour energy efficient coding and wiring systems (Niven & Laughlin, 2008), which is not considered by the Bayesian account. Bayesian integration strives to process all of the information provided by the environment in the most accurate way, despite the large computational costs. But do we actually need all of it to function successfully within our ecological niche? According to inferential approach, the answer is yes. Bayesian framework is underpinned by the idea there is an objective world to be perceived, and the purpose of sensory modalities is to faithfully replicate the external world in an internal representation (Lehar, 2003). The argument goes even further by suggesting that perception is only useful as long as it is accurate (Palmer, 1999). Percepti...


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...ests that since the main purpose of the sensory system is to support adaptive behaviour within organism’s ecological niche, the information processing has to be efficient. Efficiency is determined by temporal and energetic costs. Considering that perception computation is highly expensive, it seems unlikely that the perceptual system would aim to process all of the information in order to achieve an accurate replica of the environment. Contrary, evolutionary models suggest that natural selection favours subjective perceptions that not necessarily represent the physical environment, yet provide sufficient information for adaptive behaviour. In short, the evolutionary model suggests that the nervous system implies satisficing strategy to perception and multisensory integration: i.e., the system strives to achieve the minimum requirements to realise the desired outcome.

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