Sep 22, 2018

Words affect visual perception by activating object shape representations

Scientific Reports
Samuel NoormanIrina Simanova

Abstract

Linguistic labels are known to facilitate object recognition, yet the mechanism of this facilitation is not well understood. Previous psychophysical studies have suggested that words guide visual perception by activating information about visual object shape. Here we aimed to test this hypothesis at the neural level, and to tease apart the visual and semantic contribution of words to visual object recognition. We created a set of object pictures from two semantic categories with varying shapes, and obtained subjective ratings of their shape and category similarity. We then conducted a word-picture matching experiment, while recording participants' EEG, and tested if the shape or the category similarity between the word's referent and target picture explained the spatiotemporal pattern of the picture-evoked responses. The results show that hearing a word activates representations of its referent's shape, which interacts with the visual processing of a subsequent picture within 100 ms from its onset. Furthermore, non-visual categorical information, carried by the word, affects the visual processing at later stages. These findings advance our understanding of the interaction between language and visual perception and provide insig...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Study
Patterns
Electroencephalography
Pattern Recognition, Visual
Vision
Brain
Visual Perception
Visual Evoked Cortical Potential
Participant
Readability

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