August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Holistic Processing of Unfamiliar Line Patterns
Author Affiliations
  • Mintao Zhao
    Department of Human Perception, Cognition, and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
  • Isabelle Bülthoff
    Department of Human Perception, Cognition, and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 731. doi:
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      Mintao Zhao, Isabelle Bülthoff; Holistic Processing of Unfamiliar Line Patterns. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):731. doi:

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

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Holistic processing—the tendency to perceive objects as indecomposable wholes—has long been viewed as a process specific for faces or objects-of-expertise. While some researchers argue that holistic processing is unique for processing of faces (domain-specific hypothesis), others propose that it results from automatized attention strategy developed with expertise (i.e., expertise hypothesis). While these theories differ in what causes holistic processing, they share a fundamental constraint for its generalization: Non-face objects cannot elicit face-like holistic processing in the absence of expertise. Contrary to this prevailing view, here we show that line-patterns with salient Gestalt information (i.e., connectedness, closure, and continuity between parts) can be processed as holistically as faces without any training. This face-like holistic processing of non-face objects also occurred when we tested faces and line patterns in different sessions on different days, suggesting that it was not due to the context effect incurred by testing both types of stimuli within a single session. Moreover, weakening the saliency of Gestalt information in line patterns reduced holistic processing for these stimuli, indicating the crucial role of Gestalt information in eliciting holistic processing. Taken together, these results indicate that, besides a top-down route based on expertise, holistic processing can be achieved via a bottom-up route relying merely on object-based information. Therefore, face-like holistic processing can extend beyond the domains of faces and objects-of-expertise, in contrary to current dominant theories.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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