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Segmentation precedes face categorization under suboptimal conditions.

Van den Boomen, C., Fahrenfort, J. J., Snijders, T. M., & Kemner, C. (2015). Segmentation precedes face categorization under suboptimal conditions. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 667. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00667.
Both categorization and segmentation processes play a crucial role in face perception. However, the functional relation between these subprocesses is currently unclear. The present study investigates the temporal relation between segmentation-related and category-selective responses in the brain, using electroencephalography (EEG). Surface segmentation and category content were both manipulated using texture-defined objects, including faces. This allowed us to study brain activity related to segmentation and to categorization. In the main experiment, participants viewed texture-defined objects for a duration of 800 ms. EEG results revealed that segmentation-related responses precede category-selective responses. Three additional experiments revealed that the presence and timing of categorization depends on stimulus properties and presentation duration. Photographic objects were presented for a long and short (92 ms) duration and evoked fast category-selective responses in both cases. On the other hand, presentation of texture-defined objects for a short duration only evoked segmentation-related but no category-selective responses. Category-selective responses were much slower when evoked by texture-defined than by photographic objects. We suggest that in case of categorization of objects under suboptimal conditions, such as when low-level stimulus properties are not sufficient for fast object categorization, segmentation facilitates the slower categorization process
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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