November 2002
Volume 2, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   November 2002
Extraction of parts and wholes from multi-element scenes
Author Affiliations
  • József Fiser
    University of Rochester
Journal of Vision November 2002, Vol.2, 558. doi:
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      József Fiser, Richard N. Aslin; Extraction of parts and wholes from multi-element scenes. Journal of Vision 2002;2(7):558. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Objects are often composed of two or more parts whose relative spatial arrangement can vary while the elements within parts remain invariant under a variety of 2- and 3-D transformations. What determines which configuration of individual elements gets encoded as parts in the absence of low-level mechanisms, such as the similarity or common motion of elements? Previously, we showed that human observers can learn the spatial configuration of shape-pairs or -triplets embedded within multiple exemplars of complex scenes. Passive observation of several dozen exemplars was sufficient for learning that some shape-pairs or -triplets that occurred consistently in the scenes comprised a set of base elements, whereas other shape-pairs or -triplets that occurred inconsistently comprised ‘accidental coincidences’. In the present study we extended these findings by showing that shape-pairs are encoded differently depending on whether or not they are embedded in a larger part. Subjects viewed a series of 120 displays consisting of 6 elements in apparently random configuration, but constructed from one of two 4-element shape-quads and one of two shape-pairs (from an inventory of 12 simple shapes). Each scene was passively viewed for 2 sec. A 2AFC post-exposure test revealed that subjects could easily discriminate shape-pairs and shape-quads which were not embedded in shape-quads from the exposure set from novel configurations of shape-pairs and shape-quads [t(19)=3.56, t(19)=4.16, both p<.001]. However, discrimination was at chance for shape-pairs embedded in familiar shape-quads when compared to novel configurations of shape-pairs [t(19)=0.78, n.s.], despite the fact that they appeared the same number of times as the non-embedded pairs. This pattern of results suggests that instead of the successive build-up of larger parts from smaller parts, subjects are biased to extract the largest configuration of consistently co-occurring elements in multi-element scenes (‘parts’), and that within an extracted larger configuration (‘whole’) the independent accessibility of embedded substructures is diminished.

Fiser, J., Aslin, R. N.(2002). Extraction of parts and wholes from multi-element scenes [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 2( 7): 558, 558a,, doi:10.1167/2.7.558. [CrossRef]

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