Randomness impacts the building of specific priors, visual exploration, and perception in object recognition

Cécile Gal, Ioana Țincaș, Vasile V. Moca, Andrei Ciuparu, Emanuela L. Dan, Marie L. Smith, Teodora Gliga, Raul C. Mureșan

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Recognising objects is a vital skill on which humans heavily rely to respond quickly and adaptively to their environment. Yet, we lack a full understanding of the role visual information sampling plays in this process, and its relation to the individual’s priors. To bridge this gap, the eye-movements of 18 adult participants were recorded during a free-viewing object-recognition task using Dots stimuli1. Participants viewed the stimuli in one of three orders: from most visible to least (Descending), least visible to most (Ascending), or in a randomised order (Random). This dictated the strength of their priors along the experiment. Visibility order influenced the participants’ recognition performance and visual exploration. In addition, we found that while orders allowing for stronger priors generally led participants to visually sample more informative locations, this was not the case of Random participants. Indeed, they appeared to behave naïvely, and their use of specific object-related priors was fully impaired, while they maintained the ability to use general, task-related priors to guide their exploration. These findings have important implications for our understanding of perception, which appears to be influenced by complex cognitive processes, even at the basic level of visual sampling during object recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8527
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2024

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