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Marlene Poncet, Leila Reddy, Michele Fabre-Thorpe; A need for more information uptake but not focused attention to access basic-level representations. Journal of Vision 2012;12(1):15. doi: 10.1167/12.1.15.
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Complex visual scenes can be categorized at the superordinate level (e.g., animal/non-animal or vehicle/non-vehicle) without focused attention. However, rapid visual categorization at the basic level (e.g., dog/non-dog or car/non-car) requires additional processing time. Such finer categorization might, thus, require attentional resources. This hypothesis was tested in the current study with a dual-task paradigm in which subjects performed a basic-level categorization task in peripheral vision either alone (single-task condition) or concurrently with an attentionally demanding letter discrimination task (dual-task condition). Our results indicate that basic-level categorization of either biological (dog/non-dog animal) or man-made (car/non-car vehicle) stimuli requires more information uptake but can, nevertheless, be performed when attention is not fully available, presumably because it is supported by hardwired, specialized neuronal networks.
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