The Interplay of Bottom-Up and Top-Down Mechanisms in Visual Guidance During Object Naming

Moreno Coco, George L. Malcolm, Frank Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An ongoing issue in visual cognition concerns the roles played by low- and high-level information in guiding visual attention, with current research remaining inconclusive about the interaction between the two. In this study, we bring fresh evidence into this long-standing debate by investigating visual saliency and contextual congruency during object naming (Experiment 1), a task in which visual processing interacts with language processing. We then compare the results of this experiments to data of a memorization task using the same stimuli (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, we find that both saliency and congruency influence visual and naming responses, and interact with linguistic
factors. In particular, incongruent objects are fixated later and less often than congruent ones. However, saliency is a significant predictor of object naming, with salient objects being named earlier in a trial. Furthermore, the saliency and congruency of a named object interact with the lexical frequency of the associated word and mediate the timecourse of fixations at naming. In Experiment 2, we find a similar overall pattern in the eye-movement responses, but only the congruency of the target is a significant predictor, with incongruent targets fixated less often than congruent targets. Crucially, this finding contrasts with claims in the literature that incongruent objects are more informative than
congruent objects by deviating from scene context, and hence need a longer processing.
Overall, this study suggests that different sources of information are interactively used to guide visual attention on the targets to be named, and raises new questions for existing theories of visual attention.
Keywords: Eye-movements; object naming; scene understanding; cross-modal
processing; visual guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1120
Number of pages24
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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