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Noam Khayat, Shaul Hochstein; Perceiving Sets and Categories. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.128.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The visual system is constantly bombarded with too much information. Two cognitive processes are exploited to compensate for perceptual, cognitive and memory limits: object categorization and set summary statistics perception. We naturally relate objects to their category, assume they share relevant category properties, often disregarding irrelevant characteristics. Similarly, spreading attention over a set of objects with some similarity, we form an ensemble representation of the group: Without encoding detailed information of individuals, observers absorb set summary data. We now relate these processes and suggest they depend on similar mechanisms. Just as categorization may include/depend on prototype and inter-category boundaries, so set perception includes property mean and range. We find common features of these processes. We test summary perception of low-level features with a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) paradigm and find that participants perceive both the mean and range extremes of stimulus sets, automatically, implicitly, and on-the-fly, for each RSVP sequence, independently. We now use the same experimental paradigm to test category representation of high-level objects. We find participants perceive categorical characteristics better than they code individual elements. We relate category prototype to set mean and same/different category to in/out-of-range elements, defining a direct parallel between low-level set perception and high-level categorization. The implicit effects of mean or prototype and set or category boundaries are very similar. We suggest that object categorization may share perceptual-computational mechanisms with set summary statistics perception.
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