Reviewer 1 Comments

[Note: comments in bold font indicate sections highlighted by the editor for particular importance to address.]

I have now read the ms by Lehar. My preliminary judgment is that the ms is interesting but in its present form not (yet) quite appropriate for BBS. The author should first be encouraged to strengthen his case and connect his views with related current research more explicitly, and then resubmit, or submit elsewhere (e.g. to Psycoloquy).

This is an interesting paper that challenges much of the current orthodoxy in perceptual science. The author revives the central principles of the Gestalt school in psychology and attempts to build a model of visual perception on that ground, treating the phenomenology of perception as primary, internal, and real. This leads him to develop a full-blown "Cartesian-theatre" model of visual perception and a novel model of perceptual computation which takes place physically in the spatial medium (the bubble model) of perception. The author shows how a multitude of perceptual phenomena and illusions can be reinterpreted as states or transformations realized in this bubble model of perception.

I have been requested to evaluate whether or not this paper is suitable for a full BBS refereeing procedure. The paper is certainly controversial and contains novel ideas. However, it might not be sufficiently strong to be able to truly challenge the current orthodoxy and elicit fruitful peer commentary. This is because the author attempts to overthrow too many widely held beliefs as to how perception should be explained without arguing against those positions in detail (e.g. representationalism, content-vehicle -distinctions, traditional computational modeling). He also does not systematically or convincinly defeat the standard counterarguments presented against homunculus-, internal perception-, sense-data-, or Cartesian Theatre -theories of consciousness, although those arguments are the ones that will probably be immediately raised against a view such as the present one.

Some of the evidence he presents in support of his theory, e.g. the interpretation of neglect, is based on an insufficient review of the actual phenomenon (which is a much more complex disorder than the author seems to be aware of) and he does not mention the different cognitive theories that have been presented to explain it. It is implausible that all the different varieties and forms of neglect could be explained by referring to the disruption of a single spatial representation (In fact I think that's what some neglect researchers tried at first, but without success). Furthermore, the author seems to believe that there is no neuroscience research that would go beyond the single cell approach and try to understand Gestalt phenomena, but in fact the studies on neural synchronization (e.g. Engel, Singer, Tallon-Baudry) and theories of possible neural mechanisms underlying holistic gestalt perception (e.g. Roelfsema & Singer, "synchronizing connections") try to do exactly that. He also does not mention people whose ideas apparently come quite close to his own (e.g. John Smythies' defense of representative realism in Walls of Plato's Cave, 1994; O'Brien & Opie's 1999 paper in BBS where they defend a novel view of computation that takes consciousness into account etc.). That is a pity, for connecting his model with other people's work more explicitly would make the paper much more eligible for peer commentary.

While I cannot say that the paper in its present form is inappropriate for full BBS refereeing, I would recommend the author to first make his case significantly stronger before the paper is submitted to a formal bbs referee round. I believe the author would need to do some grounding work with his model that would connect it more closely to the current discussions in cognitive science and neuroscience (see my suggestions above). For example, a psycoloquy treatment of a shortened version of the paper might be at this point a good way to strengthen the author's case. Otherwise, in its present form the paper might easily prove to be too weak and too idiosyncratically presented to be acceptable for BBS, although I believe that if it can be more carefully formulated it deserves to be seriously considered.