Skip to main content Accessibility help

The El Greco fallacy and pupillometry: Pupillary evidence for top-down effects on perception

  • Weizhen Xie (a1) and Weiwei Zhang (a1)


In this commentary, we address the El Greco fallacy by reviewing some recent pupillary evidence supporting top-down modulation of perception. Furthermore, we give justification for including perceptual effects of attention in tests of cognitive penetrability. Together, these exhibits suggest that cognition can affect perception (i.e., they support cognitive penetrability).



Hide All
Chung, S. T. & Pease, P. L. (1999) Effect of yellow filters on pupil size. Optometry and Vision Science 76(1):5962.
Firestone, C. & Scholl, B. J. (2014b) “Top-down” effects where none should be found: The El Greco fallacy in perception research. Psychological Science 25:3846.
Firestone, C. & Scholl, B. J. (2015a) Can you experience top-down effects on perception? The case of race categories and perceived lightness. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 22:694700.
Hartmann, M. & Fischer, M. H. (2014) Pupillometry: The eyes shed fresh light on the mind. Current Biology 24(7):R281–82. Available at:
Hillyard, S. A., Vogel, E. K. & Luck, S. J. (1998) Sensory gain control (amplification) as a mechanism of selective attention: Electrophysiological and neuroimaging evidence. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences 353(1373):1257–70.
Laeng, B. & Endestad, T. (2012) Bright illusions reduce the eye's pupil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109(6):2162–67. Available at:
Laeng, B., Sirois, S. & Gredebäck, G. (2012) Pupillometry: A window to the preconscious? Perspectives on Psychological Science 7(1):1827. Available at:
Laeng, B. & Sulutvedt, U. (2014) The eye pupil adjusts to imaginary light. Psychological Science 25(1):188–97. Available at:
Lee, D. H., Mirza, R., Flanagan, J. G. & Anderson, A. K. (2014) Optical origins of opposing facial expression actions. Psychological Science 25(3):745–52. Available at:
Lu, Z., Guo, B., Boguslavsky, A., Cappiello, M., Zhang, W. & Meng, M. (2015) Distinct effects of contrast and color on subjective rating of fearfulness. Frontiers in Psychology 6:19. Available at:
Mathôt, S., van der Linden, L., Grainger, J. & Vitu, F. (2015) The pupillary light response reflects eye-movement preparation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 41(1):2835. Available at:
Meier, B. P., Robinson, M. D., Crawford, L. E. & Ahlvers, W. J. (2007) When “light” and “dark” thoughts become light and dark responses: Affect biases brightness judgments. Emotion 7(2):366–76. Available at:
Murphy, P. R., Vandekerckhove, J. & Nieuwenhuis, S. (2014) Pupil-linked arousal determines variability in perceptual decision making. PLoS Computational Biology 10(9):e1003854. Available at:
Naber, M. & Nakayama, K. (2013) Pupil responses to high-level image content. Journal of Vision 13(6):7. Available at:
Xie, W. & Zhang, W. (in preparation) Positive thought as an eye opener leads to brighter perception.
Zhang, W. & Luck, S. J. (2009) Feature-based attention modulates feedforward visual processing. Nature Neuroscience 12(1):2425. Available at:


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed