Symmetry in Visual and Linguistic Perception

Brent Henderson


Like linguistic perception, visual perception is an active process in which the mind makes use of innate structural principles in the computational process. It is therefore useful to ask whether the visual and linguistic computational systems make use of the same or similar principles. This article describes the role played by principles of symmetry in visual perception as suggested by researchers in that field, and suggests that a subset of those principles play a strong role in the perception of linguistic structure. It is claimed that a distinction should be made between the construction of linguistic structure and its perception in the computational system, and that principles of sym-metry apply in subtly different ways in each. It is argued that movement’s inherent locality, successive-cyclicity, has a bipartite nature, being sensitive only to certain barrier nodes in the construction of structure while adjoining to every intermediate projection in the perception of structure.


linguistic structure; successive-cyclic movement; symmetry; visual perception

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