How does information from low and high spatial frequencies interact during scene categorization?


Current models of visual perception suggest that, during scene categorization, low spatial frequencies (LSF) are rapidly processed and activate plausible interpretations of visual input. This coarse analysis would be used to guide subsequent processing of high spatial frequencies (HSF). The present study aimed to further examine how information from LSF and HSF interact and influence each other during scene categorization. In a first experimental session, participants had to categorize LSF and HSF filtered scenes belonging to two different semantic categories (artificial vs. natural). In a second experimental session, we used hybrid scenes as stimuli made by combining LSF and HSF from two different scenes which were semantically similar or dissimilar. Half of the participants categorized LSF scenes in hybrids, and the other half categorized HSF scenes in hybrids. Stimuli were presented for 30 or 100 ms. Session 1 results showed better performance for LSF than HSF scene categorization. Session 2 scene categorization was faster when participants attended and categorized LSF than HSF scene in hybrids. The semantic interference of a semantically dissimilar HSF scene on LSF scene categorization was greater than the semantic interference of a semantically dissimilar LSF scene on HSF scene categorization, irrespective of exposure duration. These results suggest a LSF advantage for scene categorization, and highlight the prominent role of HSF information when there is uncertainty about the visual stimulus, in order to disentangle between alternative interpretations.

Brice Beffara
Brice Beffara
Lecturer-researcher in psychology and methods

My research interests include social psychology, biological psychology, and methods.