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M. Dorothee Augustin, Helene Fuchs, Birgit Defranceschi, Claus-Christian Carbon, Florian Hutzler; Style follows content revisited: Evidence from an ERP study. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1080. doi: 10.1167/9.8.1080.
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To find out what characterizes art from a vision scientist's point of view, it seems important to contrast the processing of style and content in art. While the perception of content (motif) presumably shows strong similarities to normal object and scene perception, style is an aspect that is art specific and that may thus trigger art-specific processing (Augustin, Leder, Hutzler, & Carbon, 2008). Results from a recent study (Augustin et al. 2008) suggest that the processing of content precedes the processing of style, with judgments of similarity for picture pairs reflecting differences in content at shorter presentation times than differences in style. The current investigation tried to find out whether this result is also supported by brain correlates of motor preparations related to explicit classifications of style and content.
We adapted a Dual Choice- Go/No Go paradigm (van Turennout, Hagoort, & Brown, 1998), in which one stimulus dimension determines whether to react or not to react (Go/No Go) and the second dimension determines which hand to react with in Go-trials (left/right). We assessed lateralized readiness potentials (LRPs) as brain correlates of hand-specific response preparation. The results suggest information about content to be available earlier than information about style: There was a significant LRP for No-Go trials in cases where style determined the Go/No Go decision and content determined the left/right-decision, but not in those cases where the task assignments of style and content were switched. These results support the finding that style follows content in the processing of art (Augustin et al., 2008), probably reflecting the optimization of the visual system for object and scene perception as opposed to style perception.
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