ERP evidence for the influence of scene context on the recognition of ambiguous and unambiguous objects.

TitleERP evidence for the influence of scene context on the recognition of ambiguous and unambiguous objects.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDyck M, Brodeur MB
Date Published2015 Jun

We are used to seeing objects in specific settings, and in association with other related objects. This contextual information allows for fast and efficient object recognition and influences brain-related processes. The influence of scene context has been studied using event-related potentials (ERPs) in order to further our understanding of the underlying brain mechanisms. Current ERP studies have focused on effects related to the incongruity between unambiguous objects and their scenes, rather than the specific influence of a congruent scene. The present study sought to examine ERPs associated with the beneficial influence of scene context on object recognition. This influence was examined using ambiguous objects that required a congruent scene in order to be recognized, as well as unambiguous objects, to determine whether scene processing occurs even when it is unnecessary for recognizing the object. Twenty healthy subjects were instructed to indicate whether they recognized, had a vague idea, or did not recognize target objects that appeared within congruent and neutral scenes. ERPs from 250 to 1000 ms, including the N300 and N400, were more positive at anterior sites and more negative at posterior sites, when objects appeared in congruent scenes as opposed to when they appeared in neutral scenes, with a larger effect seen for ambiguous objects. Upon further examination, the results showed that the ERPs to ambiguous objects became similar to those of unambiguous objects when they appeared in congruent contexts. These findings indicated that a congruent context exerted its influence by reducing the ambiguity of objects.

Alternate JournalNeuropsychologia
PubMed ID25911127