Parallel processing in high-level categorization of natural images

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Jul;5(7):629-30. doi: 10.1038/nn866.


Models of visual processing often include an initial parallel stage that is restricted to relatively low-level features, whereas activation of higher-level object descriptions is generally assumed to require attention. Here we report that even high-level object representations can be accessed in parallel: in a rapid animal versus non-animal categorization task, both behavioral and electrophysiological data show that human subjects were as fast at responding to two simultaneously presented natural images as they were to a single one. The implication is that even complex natural images can be processed in parallel without the need for sequential focal attention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology