Psychology Grand Rounds

Identifying the bi-directional interplay in scene categorization

Previous research into scene categorization has focused on gist extraction, particularly the speed of processing and the semantic information extracted during short time-frames. However, the focus on rapid categorization has disregarded a potential feedback process. Scenes contain more than just rapidly extracted gist information and can be categorized at different levels of specificity. The current study investigates scene categorization beyond gist extraction finding that not only does a scene's diagnostic information change with the level of categorization, but that this information is strategically accrued by observers. Collectively, the results demonstrate that when processing scenes, a bi-directional interplay between available features and task constraints is used to inform a relevant category.