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Cognition. 2008 Aug;108(2):566-77. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.03.009. Epub 2008 Apr 29.

The conceptual grouping effect: categories matter (and named categories matter more).

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Pittsburg, PA 15213-3890, USA.


Do conceptual categories affect basic visual processing? A conceptual grouping effect for familiar stimuli is reported using a visual search paradigm. Search through conceptually-homogeneous non-targets was faster and more efficient than search through conceptually-heterogeneous non-targets. This effect cannot be attributed to perceptual factors and is not explained by a long-term representational reorganization due to perceptual-learning. Rather, conceptual categories seem to modulate visual representations dynamically, and are sensitive to task-demands. Verbally labeling a visual target further exaggerates the degree to which conceptual categories penetrate visual processing.

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