Got the gist? The effects of visually evoked expectations and cross-modal stimulation on the rapid processing of real-world scenes

Mclean, Dominic (2021) Got the gist? The effects of visually evoked expectations and cross-modal stimulation on the rapid processing of real-world scenes. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Scene meaning is processed rapidly, with ‘gist’ extracted even when presentation duration spans a few dozen milliseconds. This has led some to suggest a primacy of bottom-up visual information. However, gist research has typically relied on showing successions of unrelated scene images, contrary to our everyday experience of a multisensory world unfolding around us in a predictable manner. To address this lack of ecological validity, Study 1 investigated whether top-down information – in the form of observers’ predictions of an upcoming scene – facilitates gist processing. Participants (N=336) experienced a series of images, organised to represent an approach to a destination (e.g., walking down a sidewalk), followed by a final target scene either congruous or incongruous with the expected destination (e.g., a store interior or a bedroom). A series of behavioural experiments revealed that (i) appropriate expectations facilitated gist processing, (ii) inappropriate expectations interfered with gist processing, (iii) the effect of congruency was driven by provision of contextual information rather than the thematic coherence of approach images, and (iv) expectation-based facilitation was most apparent when destination duration was most curtailed. We then investigated the neural correlates of predictability on scene processing using ERP (N=26). Congruency-related differences were found in a putative scene-selective ERP component, related to integrating visual properties (P2), and in later components related to contextual integration including semantic and syntactic coherence (N400 and P600, respectively). Study 2 (N=206) then investigated the influence of simultaneous auditory information on gist processing, across two eye-tracking experiments. Search performance as a function of target sound congruency was measured using a flash-preview moving window paradigm. This revealed that a cross-modal effect did exist. Taken together, these results suggest that in real-world situations, both prior expectations and simultaneous cross-modal information influence the earliest stages of scene processing, affecting the integration of visual properties and meaning.

Keywords: scene processing, gist, top-down information, event-related potentials, audio-visual processing, eye tracking

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2022 14:18
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2022 14:18

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