We readily and effortlessly recognize the faces of our friends and the objects around us, but these cannot be simple tasks for our visual systems. Faces are all extremely similar as visual patterns. We see objects from different viewpoints and in different arrangements. How do our visual systems solve these problems? The contributors to this volume attempt to answer this question by considering how analytic and holistic processes contribute to the perception of faces, objects, and scenes. The primacy of parts versus that of wholes has been debated for a century, beginning with the structuralists, who championed the role of elements, and the Gestalt psychologists, who argued that the whole is different from the sum of its parts. This is the first volume to focus on the current state of the debate as it exists in the field of visual perception by bringing together the views of the leading researchers, including James Tanaka, Ken Nakayama, Michael Tarr, John Hummel, Marlene Behrmann, Daniel Simons, John Henderson, and Andrew Hollingworth.
These contributors address questions such as whether analytic and holistic processes contribute differently to the perception of faces and objects, whether different mechanisms code holistic and analytic information, and whether a single universal system can be sufficient for visual-information processing. The chapters in this volume provide a snapshot of the current thinking on how the processing of wholes and parts contributes to our remarkable ability to recognize faces, objects, and scenes, and illustrate the diverse conceptions of analytic and holistic processing that currently coexist within one research area and across research areas, and the variety of approaches brought to bear on the issues.