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Psychol Sci. 2009 Apr;20(4):464-72.

The briefest of glances: the time course of natural scene understanding.

Author information

  • 1Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. mrgreene@mit.edu

Abstract

What information is available from a brief glance at a novel scene? Although previous efforts to answer this question have focused on scene categorization or object detection, real-world scenes contain a wealth of information whose perceptual availability has yet to be explored. We compared image exposure thresholds in several tasks involving basic-level categorization or global- property classification. All thresholds were remarkably short: Observers achieved 75%-correct performance with presentations ranging from 19 to 67 ms, reaching maximum performance at about 100 ms. Global-property categorization was performed with significantly less presentation time than basic-level categorization, which suggests that there exists a time during early visual processing when a scene may be classified as, for example, a large space or navigable, but not yet as a mountain or lake. Comparing the relative availability of visual information reveals bottlenecks in the accumulation of meaning. Understanding these bottlenecks provides critical insight into the computations underlying rapid visual understanding.

PMID:
19399976
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2742770
Free PMC Article

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