Decisional space modulates visual categorization - Evidence from saccadic reaction times.


Eye and Brain Mapping Laboratory (iBMLab), Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Electronic address: [Email]


Manual and saccadic reaction times (SRTs) have been used to determine the minimum time required for different types of visual categorizations. Such studies have demonstrated extremely rapid detection of faces within natural scenes, whereas increasingly complex decisions (i.e. levels of processing) require longer processing times. We reasoned that visual categorization speed is not only dependent on the processing level, but is further affected by decisional space constraints. In the context of two different tasks, observers performed choice saccades towards female (gender categorization) or personally familiar (familiarity categorization) faces. Additionally, familiarity categorizations were completed with stimulus sets that differed in the number of individuals presented (3 vs. 7 identities) to investigate the effect of decisional space constraints. We observe an inverse relationship between visual categorization proficiency and decisional space. Observers were most accurate for categorization of gender, which could be achieved in as little as 140 ms. Categorization of highly predictable targets was more error-prone and required an additional ∼100 ms processing time. Our findings add to an increasing body of evidence demonstraing that pre-activation of identity-information can modulate early visual processing in a top-down manner. They also emphasize the importance of considering procedural aspects, as well as terminology when aiming to characterize cognitive processes.


Face gender,Face processing,Minimum saccadic reaction times,Personal familiarity,Task demands,Visual categorization,

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