Effects of spatial frequency bands on perceptual decision: It is not the stimuli but the comparison

Pia Rotshtein, Andrew Schofield, María J. Funes, Glyn W. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observers performed three between- and two within-category perceptual decisions with hybrid stimuli comprising low and high spatial frequency (SF) images. We manipulated (a) attention to, and (b) congruency of information in the two SF bands. Processing difficulty of the different SF bands varied across different categorization tasks: house-flower, face-house, and valence decisions were easier when based on high SF bands, while flower-face and gender categorizations were easier when based on low SF bands. Larger interference also arose from response relevant distracters that were presented in the "preferred" SF range of the task. Low SF effects were facilitated by short exposure durations. The results demonstrate that decisions are affected by an interaction of task and SF range and that the information from the non-attended SF range interfered at the decision level. A further analysis revealed that overall differences in the statistics of image features, in particular differences of orientation information between two categories, were associated with decision difficulty. We concluded that the advantage of using information from one SF range over another depends on the specific task requirements that built on the differences of the statistical properties between the compared categories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention and congruency manipulations
  • Face perception
  • Gender
  • Hybrid stimuli
  • Ordinate categorization
  • Subordinate categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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