August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
The effect of context on rapid animal detection
Author Affiliations
  • Jan Drewes
    Experimental Psychology, Giessen University, Giessen, Germany
  • Julia Trommershaeuser
    Experimental Psychology, Giessen University, Giessen, Germany
  • Karl R. Gegenfurtner
    Experimental Psychology, Giessen University, Giessen, Germany
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 1177. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Jan Drewes, Julia Trommershaeuser, Karl R. Gegenfurtner; The effect of context on rapid animal detection. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1177.

      Download citation file:

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

  • Supplements

Human observers are capable of detecting animals within novel natural scenes with remarkable speed and accuracy. Recent studies found human response times to be as fast as 120ms in a dual-presentation (2-AFC) setup (Kirchner, Thorpe 2006). In most previous experiments, pairs of randomly chosen images were presented, frequently from very different contexts (e.g. a zebra in Africa vs. the New York Skyline). Here, we tested the effect of context on performance by using a new, contiguous-context image set.

Individual images contained a single animal surrounded by a large, animal-free image area. The image could be positioned and cropped in such a manner that the animal could occur in one of eight evenly spaced positions on an imaginary circle (radius 10 deg visual angle). In the first (8-way) experiment, all eight positions were used, whereas in the second (2-way) and third (2-afc) experiment the animals were only presented on the two positions to the left and right of the screen center. In the third experiment, additional rectangular frames were used to mimick the conditions of earlier studies.

Absolute hit ratios were on average slightly lower on the 8-way than in both other conditions (8-way:81%, 2-way:88%, 2-afc:87%), yet the range-normalized results show a slight advantage in performance for the 8-way condition (8-way:78%, 2-way:75%, 2-afc:73%). Average latencies on successful trials were similar in all three conditions (8-way:207ms, 2-way:198ms, 2-afc:203ms), indicating that the number of possible animal locations within the display does not affect decision latency.

These results illustrate that animal detection is fast and efficient even when the animals are embedded in their natural backgrounds and could occur in arbitrary locations in an image.

Drewes, J. Trommershaeuser, J. Gegenfurtner, K. R. (2009). The effect of context on rapid animal detection [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):1177, 1177a,, doi:10.1167/9.8.1177. [CrossRef]
 Supported by DFG grant TR 528 / 1–4 (J. Drewes and J. Trommershaeuser)

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.