Haushofer J, Baker C I, Kanwisher N, 2007, "Frequency-based categorization of complex visual objects" Perception 36 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Frequency-based categorization of complex visual objects
J Haushofer, C I Baker, N Kanwisher
How do we come to group visual objects into discrete categories? We tested whether stimulus frequency could drive category formation for high-level visual objects. We presented complex visual stimuli from a two-dimensional continuum following a bimodal frequency distribution: two regions of the stimulus space were shown with high frequency ('peaks'), while intermediate stimuli were shown less often. When asked to categorize the stimuli, subjects closely followed the frequency distribution. Frequency-based categorization was best at the extremes of the spectrum and emerged within less than 50 trials. In a second experiment, subjects passively viewed the same frequency distribution and subsequently guessed the category membership of each stimulus. Again judgments closely followed the frequency distribution. These results suggest that (i) stimulus frequency can strongly influence the categorization of complex visual objects, (ii) this influence is independent of physical dimensions and may be based on the establishment of a frequency-based category axis, (iii) learning of frequency information is extremely fast, and (iv) passive exposure is sufficient for frequency to influence categorization.
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