Two scenes or not two scenes: The effects of stimulus repetition and view-similarity on scene categorization from brief displays Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous research suggests that understanding the gist of a scene relies on global structural cues that enable rapid scene categorization. This study used a repetition blindness (RB) paradigm to interrogate the nature of the scene representations used in such rapid categorization. When stimuli are repeated in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequence (~10 items/sec), the second occurrence of the repeated item frequently goes unnoticed, a phenomenon that is attributed to a failure to consolidate two conscious episodes (tokens) for a repeatedly activated type. We tested whether RB occurs for different exemplars of the same scene category, which share conceptual and broad structural properties, as well as for identical and mirror-reflected repetitions of the same scene, which additionally share the same local visual details. Across 2 experiments, identical and mirror-image scenes consistently produced a repetition facilitation, rather than RB. There was no convincing evidence of either RB or repetition facilitation for different members of a scene category. These findings indicate that in the first 100-150 ms of processing scenes are represented in terms of local visual features, rather than more abstract category-general features, and that, unlike other kinds of stimuli (words or objects), scenes are not susceptible to token individuation failure.

publication date

  • 2017