2.9 Pattern Recognition through Feature Analysis & Configurational Systems

Jan 12, 2020 | ch2 Perception & Sensation, Cognitive Psychology, Courses

Understanding how people recognize patterns is a significant part of learning how we perceive and categorize different kinds of objects. This lesson discusses pattern recognition through feature analysis and configurational systems.

Understanding Pattern Recognition

As a psychology student and a hopeful future teacher, Jody is really interested in how people learn to perceive things in the world around them. She has been observing many different children and thinking about how they come to sort the different objects, faces and places they see.

What Jody is interested in is a phenomenon often known as pattern recognition. Overall, we can understand pattern recognition as a cognitive process in which we match up a stimulus, or something we see in the world around us, with a schema, or a sense of understanding we already have about the world.

Jody learns that there are many different theories about how pattern recognition works and she wants to learn more about them.

Feature Analysis

First, Jody starts learning about a theory known as feature analysis. Jody understands that feature analysis is a bottom-up theory of pattern recognition. In other words, feature analysis starts with the object being perceived, and then moves toward the person doing the perceiving.

In feature analysis, people are understood as having receptors that filter the different stimuli we interact with. This theory proposes that our nervous systems have receptors that filter the different stimuli that come into our brains. The receptors are often thought of as feature detectors, and they can encode the different features, or details, that comprise a particular object.

Then, the relationship between the detectors and the features being perceived grows increasingly complex as the person’s mind develops. As the perceptual pathway grows more complicated, the feature detectors achieve a higher organizational level and can respond to more detailed, nuanced differences between different objects.

In feature analysis, the features that occur in the most meaningful sequences can be perceived and identified because of the detection systems we have available.

Jody understands that, for instance, when a child looks at a squirrel or chipmunk, features of the chipmunk, like the tail, the shape of the eyes, and so on, get encoded and then understood. These features get synthesized and put together for the child, who can then understand what the object is.

A child with more sophisticated receptive pathways can encode the things that make a squirrel and chipmunk different from each other, such as the stripe on the body. This child has a more organized perceptual system.

Configurational Systems

Next, Jody learns about what is known as a configurational system for pattern recognition. Configurational systems are more relevant to understanding larger configurations as well as the differences between two things with the same basic detailed features.

In essence, Jody understands, a configurational system has to do not with what the features of a particular object or creature are, but with how these features are configured, or positioned, on the object.

One important aspect of a configurational system has to do with spatial relationships. How features are positioned or spaced out on an object goes a long way toward facilitating this kind of recognition. Spatial relationships have to do with the direction of how things are positioned in relation to one another, and also with the amount of space between two different features.

When Jody thinks about configurational systems, she thinks about what she uses to tell two different people apart. Obviously, it is the features of their faces that help her identify them as people, but often, it is the way these features are organized that makes two different people’s faces look distinct.

This helps Jody understand why configurational systems of pattern recognition can make more of a difference when it comes to perceiving and identifying large conglomerations of various features.

Lesson Summary

When we think about pattern recognition, we are thinking about the cognitive processes that accompany perception and identification of different objects. It is pattern recognition that allows us to know what we are seeing and to differentiate among similar but different objects.

One aspect of pattern recognition is feature analysis. This approach relies on the notion that we perceive different features of each object we see and use these features with increasing complexity to identify and categorize objects.

Another part of pattern recognition is configurational systems. This has more to do with the spatial relationships between different features, and therefore it helps us make better sense of large and complicated configurations of features.

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