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Top down and Bottom up Processes Contribute to Human Language and Cognition

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1943 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Top Down and Bottom Up processes contribute to human Language and cognition

Speech perception necessitates both that top-down processing, which dependent on the experience of language along with bottom-up processing, which relies on instant audition. Acquisition of human language and cognition depends on the ability of a person as the bottom processing takes place in the primary period gap while top-down processing precedes to a place at later stages after the stimulation inception. Hence, when discussing the processing of information associated with human beings, bottom-up and top-down processing techniques are analyzed through visual stimuli. The processes are involved in optical illusion as well as visual tricks since it is relatively simple to manipulate images and view the way visual information could be interpreted in multiple ways. However, the bottom-up and top-down processing are significant and crucial to speech perception along with the audial stimuli, mostly about complex language cues such as those utilized in sarcasm. Hence, it is essential to understand the way bottom-up and top-down processing help a person in the acquisition of language and cognition. 

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Fair enough bottom-up processing can be perceived as a basis of information pathways. It implies that it is the way the brain acquires input or information learned through observation from the outside world through sensory perception along with transforming that information into to acknowledgeable signal for the rest of the interpretation of the brains (Elbich, 2016, np.). In this way, the inputs originate or are manipulated in various forms that are inclusive of light energy for vision, chemical energy associated with olfaction and taste or the hearing waves energy. In this case, when listening to a person, the bottom-up processing is in place in the brains and uses the energy of sound waves which are converted to action that is potential inside the ears and sends a signal to the other parts of the brains. Then the brains analyze the subsequent signal and understand the message, which is then given as a response in the form of word of mouth (Goldstein, 2011, p.36). Hence, the obtained sound or information is associated with the interpretation of the sound or word articulated in the ears, and then the brains encode its meaning.

The association of sound as well as the meaning of the lead of top-down processing pathway taking the information from the previous experience along with the using the information for analyzing new input (Elbich, 2016, np.). It can imply that in the optical illusion, the kind of processing might stand a chance to differentiate similar visual stimuli through the use of the context of the environment that surround the behavior or the information stimuli as well as remembering previous use of the stimuli. For instance, the lower case of letter L and capital letter I are very similar characters, but when utilizing the context of the word various people have no issue or problems to differentiate the two while reading or writing (Shea, 2015, p.86). Hence it occurs that speech work is similar to the latter example since the sound syllable becomes slightly diverse depending on an individual tone of voice along with inflection. Hence, humans are in the position and can understand each other due to the language memory they have generated and personal experience throughout their lives.

Similarly, the use of more complex language such as sarcasm adds a layer of speech processing under top-down processing. Additionally, regarding the basic comprehension of sounds and syllable analysis in understanding a word with its meaning, sarcasm, for instance, requires top-down processing of clue context (Sussman, Jin, and Mohanty, 2016, p. 168). The mentioned clues usually originate from the body language, voice tone along with past experience with a person’s personality, which in turns assists in deducing the meaning of a word or phrase. In this way, comprehension of sophisticated terms and terminology require a general acknowledgment of the correlation between a certain voice tone along with inflection with the emotion associated with the term and humor. The certainty of evoking the experience helps to remember the issue that is concentrated thing the acquisition of skills and knowledge along with the cultural perception and norms of the society. For instance, I might say “oh, ooh!” with a projective inflection at the end of the word “waooh” when conveying enthusiasm and surprise, while in another somber or sarcastic tone “oh waoh” could be perceived or used as disappointment or frustration. Hence, being able to differentiate or divert from the original meaning of the phrase based on these cues needs an extensive deal of top-down processing (Fox and Blumstein, 2016, p.730). Then, it implies that the experience with sarcasm phrase in line with the tone associated requires the use of reorganization and categorizing new or emerging stimuli.

Moreover, sound information becomes processed through the ears and then analyzed in the brain. In this manner, the top-down and bottom-up processing pathways undergo a series of activation to interpret the sound and words (Zheng, Roelofs and Lemhöfer, 2018, p.142). During this process, the acquired information, either visual or sound embedded in the mind interprets and associated with their corresponding meaning and feelings. Similarly, the pathways used are evidenced when studying sarcastic or any other literary form of a language. In this manner, the literary meaning or perception of the indicated word that is spoken might be different from the intended meaning of the used phrase. Hence, these situations require context clue along with the tone indicated in comparison to the previous experience in determining the intended meaning (Shea, 2015, p.75). The meaning of the stimulus or language used to develop speech cannot be articulated without the use of bottom-up and top-down processing pathways associated with human brains. Similarly, brains act as a medium of interpreting cognitive development through the use of bottom-up processing to enhance the meaning of seen, heard, or idea acquired in a situation.

According to Gibson theory indicates that the visual illusion in their regards merely artificial to the images that can be found in the norms of a person normal visual environment (Costall and Morris, P., 2015, p.1). As an extensive and a strong person supporting the bottom-up process approach argues that the perception is not hypothesized in the cordoned subject bit rather is perceived directly on what is seen and not being told. Hence, the environment stands as a sufficient origin of the details associated with the stimuli such as shape, color, and size. It implies that the perception of cognitive development of the stimuli might not necessarily depend on past knowledge or prior knowledge. For instance, when traveling on a fast speeding or moving train, a person might perceive that the object closet to them are moving fast while the object that is far from them pass slowly (Sussman, Jin, and Mohanty, 2016, p. 165). Then, the stimulus or ideology created in mind sees the distance between us as objects that are passing based on the speed which they pass. The main issue that is associated is the manipulation of the brain through being in a situation that is normally seen as challenging, but other factors such as scientific explanation deduce the phenomena at hand.

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Furthermore, Gregory theory indicates that the perception is a practical aspect which is dependence on top-down processing. Perhaps it can be articulated that the prior knowledge and experience associated with the stimulus to assist a person in making inferences (Venezia et al., 2016, p.198). The theory suggests that perception is a kind of a situation that a person guesses or formulates a hypothesis about the thing that they see. Regarding the visual perception, it occurs that visual information is lost through the time it arrives in the processing of the brain (Shea, 2015, p.89). The reason is that it depends on a person emotions, situation, or interest of the scene at hand. Indefinitely, the event can lead to the establishment of a progressive hypothesis about the stimulus associated with the memory and past experience concerning a similar incident. In this way, the brain can create an incorrect hypothesis that might lead to perception error.

In conclusion, Top-Down and bottom-up processing are an essential foundation of language and cognitive development for a person. The top-down processing involves in the development of the pattern in recognition of the use of contextual information. Hence it becomes easier to understand what is written and it’s meaning rather than indulging in deeper meaning. Hence, the brains may be able to perceive along with understanding the gist of conveyed information due to the surrounding word context. The bottom-up processing starts at the sensory input or the stimuli. It occurs that perception is under the data-driven aspect. The presented image or words portray the information and stimulate the understanding of that particular object in the eyes to convey virtue context in the grain of the perceived phenomena. Hence, a person requires both the bottom-up and top-down processing to articulate the meaning of something that is presented in the form of the eye or heard. The issue at sight or heard travels in one direction and is the work of the brain or the bottom-up to consider and interpret it from originating top-down instance of perception.


  • Costall, A. and Morris, P., 2015. The “textbook Gibson”: The assimilation of dissidence. History of psychology18(1), p.1.
  • Elbich, D. (2016) Lesson 3: Perception. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Website: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1782691/modules/items/20877302
  • Fox, N.P. and Blumstein, S.E., 2016. Top-down effects of syntactic sentential context on phonetic processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance42(5), p.730.
  • Goldstein, E. B. 2011. Chapter 2: Cognitive Neuroscience. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience (3rd ed) Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Shea, N., 2015. Distinguishing top-down from bottom-up effects. Perception and its modalities, pp.73-91.
  • Sussman, T.J., Jin, J. and Mohanty, A., 2016. Top-down and bottom-up factors in threat-related perception and attention in anxiety. Biological psychology121, pp.160-172.
  • Venezia, J.H., Fillmore, P., Matchin, W., Isenberg, A.L., Hickok, G. and Fridriksson, J., 2016. Perception drives production across sensory modalities: A network for sensorimotor integration of visual speech. NeuroImage126, pp.196-207.
  • Zheng, X., Roelofs, A. and Lemhöfer, K., 2018. Language selection errors in switching: language priming or cognitive control?. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience33(2), pp.139-147


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