Electrophysiological correlates of object categorization: back to basics
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The time course of visual object categorization as a function of electrophysiological activity in the brain was investigated using a variant of the "oddball" design. Category level was manipulated by sequentially presenting subordinate, basic or superordinate target objects among a variety of non-target objects. It was found that superordinate categorizations were performed more quickly and differentiated from basic level categorizations in amplitude early in visual processing (320-420 ms). In contrast, subordinate categorizations took longer to perform and differentiated from basic level categorizations in amplitude and latency at later stages (450-550 ms). Notably, these effects were observed using the same objects categorized at different levels suggesting that visually categorizing objects at varying levels of abstraction engaged specific cognitive processes. These results are consistent with research on rapid visual categorization that challenges the generality of basic category level superiority effects.
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