On the Physical Basis of Perceptual Information

Willy Wong


The study of psychophysics in the 19th century was founded on the principle that a single theoretical approach would permit a unified, scientific study of the senses. In the 21st century, this dream has largely remained unfulfilled. Most of current research in sensory processing lies with elucidating individual mechanisms in different sensory modalities. We describe here a different approach – one that seeks to tackle the problem at a physics-based level. The hypothesis is that the basic process underlying sensory processing lies with the exchange of information or entropy. That is, information or entropy forms the currency of perception. While our work is reminiscent of the classic work of information theory as applied to psychology in the 1950's and 60's, our approach is markedly different. Beginning with the idea that perception is a process of selecting a single alternative out of a number of possible choices, a number of important results can be derived theoretically. Some discussion is provided to link this approach to that of traditional physics.


perception, psychophysics, physics, information theory

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