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Derrick Schlangen, Elan Barenholtz; Intrinsic and contextual features in object recognition. Journal of Vision 2015;15(1):28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.1.28.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The context in which an object is found can facilitate its recognition. Yet, it is not known how effective this contextual information is relative to the object's intrinsic visual features, such as color and shape. To address this, we performed four experiments using rendered scenes with novel objects. In each experiment, participants first performed a visual search task, searching for a uniquely shaped target object whose color and location within the scene was experimentally manipulated. We then tested participants' tendency to use their knowledge of the location and color information in an identification task when the objects' images were degraded due to blurring, thus eliminating the shape information. In Experiment 1, we found that, in the absence of any diagnostic intrinsic features, participants identified objects based purely on their locations within the scene. In Experiment 2, we found that participants combined an intrinsic feature, color, with contextual location in order to uniquely specify an object. In Experiment 3, we found that when an object's color and location information were in conflict, participants identified the object using both sources of information equally. Finally, in Experiment 4, we found that participants used whichever source of information—either color or location—was more statistically reliable in order to identify the target object. Overall, these experiments show that the context in which objects are found can play as important a role as intrinsic features in identifying the objects.
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