Figure-ground organization and object recognition processes: an interactive account

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1998 Apr;24(2):441-62. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.24.2.441.


Traditional bottom-up models of visual processing assume that figure-ground organization precedes object recognition. This assumption seems logically necessary: How can object recognition occur before a region is labeled as figure? However, some behavioral studies find that familiar regions are more likely to be labeled figure than less familiar regions, a problematic finding for bottom-up models. An interactive account is proposed in which figure-ground processes receive top-down input from object representations in a hierarchical system. A graded, interactive computational model is presented that accounts for behavioral results in which familiarity effects are found. The interactive model offers an alternative conception of visual processing to bottom-up models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Attention*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychophysics