Independent Processing of Form, Colour, and Texture in Object Perception Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Most investigations of object recognition have focused on the form rather than the material properties of objects. Nevertheless, knowledge of the material properties of an object (via its surface cues) can provide important information about that object's identity. In this study, we used Garner's speeded-classification task to explore whether or not the processing of form and the processing of surface properties are independent. In experiment 1, participants made length and width classifications in an initial form task. Participants were unable to ignore length while making width classifications, and were unable to ignore width while making length classifications. This suggests that the perception of length and the perception of width share common processing resources. In a subsequent task, we examined possible interactions between the processing of form and the processing of surface properties. In contrast to the findings with the form task, participants were able to ignore form while making surface-property classifications, and to ignore surface properties while making form classifications. This suggests that the form of objects and their surface properties are processed independently. In experiment 2, we went on to show that the two prominent surface-property dimensions of colour and texture can also be processed independently. In other words, participants were able to ignore colour while making texture classifications, and vice versa. Finally, in experiment 3, we examined the possibility that the stimuli and required responses that we used in experiment 2 were too categorical and thus not optimal for assessing whether or not colour and texture share common processing resources. Using a different stimulus set, participants were again able to ignore colour while making texture classifications, and vice versa. Taken together, these results provided convincing evidence that the separate ventral-stream brain regions identified for form, texture, and colour in a recent neuroimaging study (Cant and Goodale, 2007 Cerebral Cortex 17 713-731) can indeed function independently.

publication date

  • January 2008