Past Workshops
Perception & Cognition

Perception & Cognition


Contact: Farid Masrour (

Coordinators: Gary Lupyan (Psychology), Farid Masrour (Philosophy), Gregory Nirshberg (Philosophy), Ashley Wendorf (Psychology)

Perception and Cognition workshops, meetings, and events can be found in the Borghesi-Mellon Workshops Calendar.

Many scientists and philosophers assume a sharp dichotomy between perception on the one hand and cognition on the other hand. A popular model is that perceptual capacities are simple capacities that we share with animals. Upon perceptual contact with the world, these capacities give rise to perceptual processes that are inherently bottom-up and happen in modules that are largely encapsulated from cognitive influence. Cognition, on the other hand, is often equated with a rational mental activity whose manifestations include belief formation, reasoning, and problem solving. The modularist view stands in opposition to a rival view according to which perception emerges at the level of the interplay between top-down cognitive and bottom-up sensory factors. Proponents of this view argue that a complete understanding of perception requires understanding how it interacts with knowledge, expectations and context.

The debate between modularists and their rivals has played a significant role in shaping scientific and philosophical theorizing about perception. Despite this significant role however, the debates in these disciplines have proceeded in a relatively isolated fashion. The main goal of the Borghesi-Mellon Workshop on Perception and Cognition is to jumpstart this dialogue by creating an extended interdisciplinary workshop that brings faculty, post-docs, and graduate students in the Departments of Psychology and Philosophy together, along with invited researchers outside of UW-Madison with influential work on the topic.