Take a moment and look at a picture near you. What did you see? How long did it take you to understand what was in the image, meaning how long did it take you to realize the green blob was a tree? Or that the orange circle was a piece of fruit? Most likely you assume that it took you no time at all, you just knew.
Psychologists who study how we perceive images used to think that, before the process of object recognition and categorization could begin, the brain must first separate the figure in the image—such as a tree, or a piece of fruit—from its background. However, new research shows we actually categorize objects before we identify them. It means that, by the time your brain even realizes you are looking at something, you already know what that thing is.
The new research was conducted by Kalanit Grill-Spector of Stanford University and Nancy Kanwisher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their article, "Visual Recognition: As Soon as You Know It’s There, You Know What It Is," will appear in the February 2005 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.
Kalanit Grill-Spector | EurekAlert!
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