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Vignash Tharmaratnam, Mihilkumar Patel, Matthew X. Lowe, Jonathan S. Cant; Shared cognitive mechanisms involved in the processing of scene texture and scene shape. Journal of Vision 2021;21(7):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.7.11.
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Recent research has demonstrated that the parahippocampal place area represents both the shape and texture features of scenes, with the importance of each feature varying according to perceived scene category. Namely, shape features are predominately more diagnostic to the processing of artificial human–made scenes, while shape and texture are equally diagnostic in natural scene processing. However, to date little is known regarding the degree of interactivity or independence observed in the processing of these scene features. Furthermore, manipulating the scope of visual attention (i.e., globally vs. locally) when processing ensembles of multiple objects—stimuli that share a functional neuroanatomical link with scenes—has been shown to affect their cognitive visual representation. It remains unknown whether manipulating the scope of attention impacts scene processing in a similar manner. Using the well-established Garner speeded-classification behavioral paradigm, we investigated the influence of both feature diagnosticity and the scope of visual attention on potential interactivity or independence in the shape and texture processing of artificial human–made scenes. The results revealed asymmetric interference between scene shape and texture processing, with the more diagnostic feature (i.e., shape) interfering with the less diagnostic feature (i.e., texture), but not vice versa. Furthermore, this interference was attenuated and enhanced with more local and global visual processing strategies, respectively. These findings suggest that the scene shape and texture processing are mediated by shared cognitive mechanisms and that, although these representations are governed primarily via feature diagnosticity, they can nevertheless be influenced by the scope of visual attention.
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