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He investigated the effects of spaced versus massed learning, finding that in general, active learning of spaced material is most effective. Meaningful material was much easier to learn than nonsense syllables.

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This was the first time a higher mental function was studied experimentally. In his writings of that time, the physicist Ernst Mach, whose name is memorialized in the speed of sound, considered spatial patterns and temporal patterns like melodies as sensations. In his view, we could consider these sensations as independent of their elements. He pointed out that all science is based on experience. When natural scientists observe and record natural events, they do so through their sensory experiences. He concluded that sensations are organized in consciousness to create qualities of the form that may be novel.

We look at a table from the side or top, but we still see it as a table. Also implications of pattern, whole, configuration.

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He was the grandson of an Italian merchant. In the Church reaffirmed the doctrine of infallibility. Brentano had concluded that based on historical evidence the doctrine was impossible to accept. Later, he became professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna. Argued that psychology should study mental activity, for instance the act of seeing rather than the content.

The process or act of experiencing is the focus of study. The mental acts he wished to study included judging, recalling, expecting, inferring, doubting, loving, and hoping. Brentano hoped to use experience to construct a core of generally accepted truths. He also described the effect of observation as a limit to psychological research: observation itself can change what is being observed. He was a philosopher, musical composer and performer. Music consists of organized wholes that are almost disembodied from specific physical tones. He had a strong background in music. He became a department chair and a central figure at the University of Berlin.

The focus of his studies was space perception, as well as the perception of music. Stumpf coined the term phenomenology.

He argued that the primary data of psychology are phenomena. Phenomenology is based on a method of introspection, and it refers to the study of experience as it occurs. Phenomena, like the experience of tones, colors, or images, are either sensory or imaginary. He also studied auditory attention, analysis, and comparison. Wundt argued that these phenomena were beyond the reach of experimental methods. Mayer and J. Orth questioned subjects about the associations that came freely into their mind during thinking. They reported complex, detailed associations. Their subjects reported many different patterns and types of associations.

Rubin was a Danish phenomenologist and contemporary of Wertheimer. In , he presented for the first time these ambiguous figures that can now be found in almost every introductory psychology book, for instance the white vase on a black background that can equally well be seen as two black heads looking at each other against a white background.

We learn from these ambiguous images that perception is selective. He showed for instance that when an object is perfectly flat and lies in the same physical plane as its environment, we perceive it as located in front of its environment. Husserl is sometimes called the father of phenomenology, even though Stumpf actually coined the term.

Husserl studied with Brentano and later worked with Stumpf. But there is also the knowledge that comes through turning our attention inward. Husserl used introspection to examine subjective experience, without relating it to anything else. He called it pure phenomenology. Husserl claimed that the methods of the natural sciences are inappropriate for studying mental phenomena. This philosophy solidifies the methodological separation between human and natural sciences that characterizes many academic institutions today.

He did not deny that an experimental psychology was possible, but he said it must be preceded by careful phenomenological analysis. Phenomenology could help psychology clarify the implicit assumptions and preconceptions that guide its investigations. Brentano, Stumpf, and Husserl all assumed that the subject matter of psychology is meaningful and integrated or holistic psychological experience on a human level.

They want objectivity in conjunction with a holistic approach to human science. This sets the stage for the development of Gestalt psychology. Husserl was also the teacher of Heidegger, who created his own version of a phenomenological method in philosophy.

About the Ability to Be in Two Places at Once

Another student of Husserl is Emmanuel Levinas. They believed that people do not experience life in isolated pieces, but rather in a holistic fashion, where everything fits together. Gestalt theory emerges from phenomenology, because these early Gestalt psychologists studied mental experience as it naturally occurred to the observer, without further analysis or interpretation. Max Wertheimer was born in Prague on April 15, His father was a teacher and the director of a school. At Frankfurt, he began to study the effects that blend a series of pictures into the perception of motion.

The collaboration between these three men created the Gestalt school. In , he moved to Berlin, and in was made an assistant professor there. In , he came back to Frankfurt as a professor, and in , he moved to the United States to escape Hitler. He died October 12, in New York. Wertheimer asked: What are these entities, why do we experience them as wholes, even though they extend through space and time?

Physiological Influences on Psychology - Ch3 - History of Modern Psychology - Schultz & Schultz

It is the hope of Gestalt theory to determine the nature of such wholes. Wertheimer was more of a philosopher than a psychologist. As a philosopher, he was also committed to science, and he wanted to apply the scientific method to the study of behavior. Behaviorists were somewhat naive for him, because they think in terms of stimulus and response, without enough reflection for these terms. Take a box with 2 slits, and put a light behind each slit. If the light is shown behind first one and then the other slit, we perceive a moving light, even though physically there was actually no movement.

This works in the same fashion whether the lines are vertical or horizontal. The experiment demonstrates that the physical and the experiential aspect of the stimulus are different, so how should we define the stimulus or the response? To the observer, the apparent movement exists as perception, and cannot be reduced to something simpler.

The sensory experience itself creates the perception of movement; it does not originate from an underlying reality. What makes behaviorists naive is their lack of reflection of the differences between physical and perceived stimulus. Wertheimer asked: What is the relationship between the physical aspect of a stimulus and its perceptual aspect? What we see are not the physical aspects of the form, but the form itself. The whole is different from the sum of its parts. These observations generate a theory which has as its central ideas concepts like wholeness, interdependence, context, and field.

Gestalt theorists argue that there is a connection between physical and perceptual aspects if we take relationships and patterns into account. For instance: take four dots, and arrange them in a square. Why is each dot perceived as the corner of a square? The perception of a square results only from the relationship the dots have with each other, not from any individual dot, or even from two dots together.

If you add four more dots around the perimeter of the square to make it look more like a circle, an individual dot begins to change its function, without ever changing its position. When we perceive details, we perceive them in contexts, patterns, or in relationships to other details. There is something dynamic in the pattern of interrelationships. This dynamism emerges from the patterns itself, not from the details. In real life we see not just some details, or isolated stimuli, but also meaningful configurations — hallways, market places, streets, etc.

We act in relation to these gestalt configurations, rather than in relation to the elements. It is possible for there to be a chaotic gestalt, in which things do not fit together. He received his PhD in from the University of Berlin.

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He then became an assistant at the Psychological Institute in Frankfurt, where he met and worked with Max Wertheimer. In , he was assigned to study at the Anthropoid Station at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and stayed there till In , he wrote his most famous book, Mentality of Apes. In , he became the chair and director of the psychology lab at the University of Berlin, where he stayed until During that time, in , he wrote Gestalt Psychology. In , he moved to the U.

He died June 11, in New Hampshire. Kurt Koffka was born March 18, , in Berlin.


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In , he moved to the University of Giessen, where he taught until In , he wrote an article for Psychological Bulletin which introduced the Gestalt program to readers in the U. In , he left for the U. The illusion is somewhat similar to the "duck-rabbit" ambiguous figure described by Joseph Jastrow, although in that case the figure is always seen as the object but it's identification switches back and forth from that of a duck to that of a rabbit. In the Rubin vase, the face and vase alternate between figure and ground, such that the part of the image seen as object alternates. One can then state as a fundamental principle: When two fields have a common border, and one is seen as figure and the other as ground, the immediate perceptual experience is characterized by a shaping effect which emerges from the common border of the fields and which operates only on one field or operates more strongly on one than on the other.

The illusion is an excellent and intuitive demonstration of the figure-ground distinction the brain makes during visual perception.

Introduction: Cubism and Science

Normally the brain classifies images by what surrounds a figure, establishing depth and other relationships. If one object surrounds another, the surrounded object is usually seen as figure, and the presumably further away and hence background object is the ground. In the three dimensional world, if an object such as a piece of fruit is lying on the ground, one would want to pay attention to the "figure" and not the "ground. Since the contours are ambiguous, the brain can alternatively interpret the black areas as figure or ground. There is no doubt that this particular illusion occurs involves cognitive processing.

Without having information stored in the brain that contains knowledge about vases and profiles, based on past experience, these reversible interpretations would not be possible.


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  7. Rubin's figure-ground distinction influenced the Gestalt psychologists, who discovered many similar illusions themselves. The higher-level cognitive pattern matching involved, where the overall picture determines its mental interpretation, not the net effect of the individual pieces, intrigued the Gestalt psychologists, who were very interested in the operational principle of the brain as holistic and parallel.

    This ambiguity of figure and ground, and the ability to construct objects in a reversible fashion, has intrigued artists. In particular, M. Escher utilized figure-ground effects, similar to the face-vase figure although not based on Rubin's discovery, in several of his works. Escher also used the same figure alternating the original with the reversed form to great effect, such as in his woodcut Day and Night New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards.

    This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation.