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Brain Res. 2011 Mar 4;1377:78-83. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.12.063. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

How vision is shaped by language comprehension--top-down feedback based on low-spatial frequencies.

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Institute for Psychology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.


Effects of language comprehension on visual processing have been extensively studied within the embodied-language framework. However, it is unknown whether these effects are caused by passive repetition suppression in visual processing areas, or depend on active feedback, based on partial input, from prefrontal regions. Based on a model of top-down feedback during visual recognition, we predicted diminished effects when low-spatial frequencies were removed from targets. We compared low-pass and high-pass filtered pictures in a sentence-picture-verification task. Target pictures matched or mismatched the implied shape of an object mentioned in a preceding sentence, or were unrelated to the sentences. As predicted, there was a large match advantage when the targets contained low-spatial frequencies, but no effect of linguistic context when these frequencies were filtered out. The proposed top-down feedback model is superior to repetition suppression in explaining the current results, as well as earlier results about the lateralization of this effect, and peculiar color match effects. We discuss these findings in the context of recent general proposals of prediction and top-down feedback.

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