Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Answer to age old question: Is visual recognition by wholes or by parts?

12.06.2003


In Letter to Nature, NYU and Syracuse neuroscientists prove that we read by detecting simple features



Do we visually recognize things -- words or faces -- by wholes or by parts? Denis Pelli of New York University and Bart Farell of Syracuse University have answered that question in their forthcoming Letter to Nature. Their article, "The Remarkable Inefficiency of Word Recognition," is accompanied by a "News and Views" piece discussing their work.

Using the example of letters and words, Pelli and Farell prove that we read by detecting simple features. This makes word recognition very inefficient. Even for the five most common three letter words -- the, and, was, for, him -- people cannot read the word unless the features of each letter are identifiable. The features in question are simple, much smaller than a letter.


In hundreds of thousands of trials, the researchers tested readers’ ability to recognize letters and words displayed at various contrasts. Comparing human performance with that of the mathematically defined ideal observer, they found that our visual system does not directly recognize complex familiar objects -- such as words -- but in fact relies on the detection of smaller elements -- features -- and only then recognizes the object of which they are the parts.

Just as modern radios suppress static, our eye suppresses the ’static’ of countless weak features that would otherwise besiege us. Pelli and Farell show that this hush comes at the cost of reduced efficiency in seeing complex objects like words.

"One of the interesting aspects of these findings," says Prof. Pelli, "is their counterintuitive character. Readers feel that they are reading whole words, but our research shows that vision has a bottleneck, and must independently detect simple features in order to see anything. Everything we see is a pattern of features. Even after we read millions of three-letter words, the’s, and’s, and but’s are still just patterns of features. We never learn to recognize them as single features."

Shonna Keogan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>