Learning has a powerful affect on our perception of this world and equally perception can influence how we might learn. For example, the child who perceives himself as stupid might then in fact fail his academic pursuits, perceiving that he could never accomplish them even if he tried. This child therefore has two ongoing struggles; he has learned a feeling of intellectual inferiority which creates an internal perception of himself and his abilities. Secondly, that personal perception further intimidates him from the learning arena, thus keeping him from making any significant gains. This does not mean that the child will not learn, since we can and do learn by watching the actions of others around us. Yet it may impact what he learns and how well, by the rewards and personal limits he perceives. Cognitively speaking, learning affects perception in many complex ways. We’ll take a look at reading to further examine how what we learn is then imprinted into what we perceive.
Children learn how to read in elementary school but little do they know that what they are learning creates a perception as well. A perception is in fact “imprinted” on how to perceive words in our mind as an entire unit, rather than individual letters; and thus words can then be perceived even when spelled inappropriately. Consider the following example:
I Cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteers be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
What has happened here demonstrates imprinting. What we have learned through reading now allows us to distinguish and perceive the correct words even though they are misspelled. Goldberg explains imprinting as the following secondary process of learning,
Through imprinting, detectors (also called receptors) are developed that are specialized for stimuli or parts of stimuli. The term imprinting captures the idea that the form of the detector is shaped by the impinging stimulus. Internalized detectors develop for repeated stimuli, and these detectors increase the speed, accuracy, and general fluency with which the stimuli are processed. (Goldstone, 1998)
The stress here goes onto the fact that parts of the stimuli (letters in the words we have learned) now trigger a perception and allow us to read the mixed up spelling with little difficulty. This is one astounding cognitive example of how learning creates and affects perception in our lives.
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