The effect of recognizability on figure-ground processing: Does it affect parsing or only figure selection?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though figure-ground assignment has been shown to be probably affected by recognizability, it appears sensible that object recognition must follow at least the earlier process of figure-ground segregation. To examine whether or not rudimentary object recognition could, counterintuitively, start even before the completion of the stage of parsing in which figure-ground segregation is done, participants were asked to respond, in a go/no-go fashion, whenever any out of 16 alternative connected patterns (that constituted familiar stimuli in the upright orientation) appeared. The white figure of the to-be-attended stimulus-target or foil-could be segregated from the white ambient ground only by means of a frame surrounding it. Such a frame was absent until the onset of target display. Then, to manipulate organizational quality, the greyness of the frame was either gradually increased from zero (in Experiment 1) or changed abruptly to a stationary level whose greyness was varied between trials (in Experiments 2 and 3). Stimulus recognizability was manipulated by orientation angle. In all three experiments the effect of recognizability was found to be considerably larger when organizational quality was minimal due to an extremely faint frame. This result is argued to be incompatible with any version of a serial thesis suggesting that processing aimed at object recognition starts only with a good enough level of organizational quality. The experiments rather provide some support to the claim, termed here "early interaction hypothesis", positing interaction between early recognition processing and preassignment parsing processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-624
Number of pages17
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Figure-ground perception
  • Object recognition
  • Organization processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of recognizability on figure-ground processing: Does it affect parsing or only figure selection?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this