Human observers can recognize natural images very effectively. Yet, in the literature there is a debate about the extent to which the recognition of natural images requires controlled attentional processing. In the present study we address this topic by testing whether natural scene recognition is affected by mental fatigue. Mental fatigue is known to particularly compromise high-level, controlled attentional processing of local features. Effortless, automatic processing of more global features of an image stays relatively intact, however. We conducted a natural image categorization experiment (N = 20) in which mental fatigue was induced by time-on-task (ToT). Stimuli were images from 5 natural scene categories. Semantic typicality (high or low) and the magnitude of 7 global image properties were determined for each image in separate rating experiments. Significant performance effects of typicality and global properties on scene recognition were found, but, despite a general decline in performance, these effects remained unchanged with increasing ToT. The findings support the importance of the global property processing in natural scene recognition and suggest that this process is insensitive to mental fatigue.

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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Department of Psychology

Csathó, Á, van der Linden, D, & Gács, B. (2015). Natural scene recognition with increasing time-on-task: The role of typicality and global image properties. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68(4), 814–828. doi:10.1080/17470218.2014.968592