Ability to Extract Extrafoveal Information Modulates Object Processing in Naturalistic Scenes
In naturalistic scene processing, individuals adopt multiple resources to facilitate their object identification processes. For instance, scene context information contains many cues to facilitate recognition of an object, including the scene gist category and other semantically related objects. Similarly, individuals’ capacity to allocate attention independently from eye-movement suggests extrafoveal processing under circumstances where target objects are not in the center of fixation. Previous studies have shown that target-related objects or scene context, as well as extrafoveal processing of the object, may boost object perception. However, very few studies have examined the effect of multiple sources of information on object processing simultaneously. In the present study, we investigated whether scene context and distance from fixation would interact and influence individuals’ object identification. Using a modified dot-boundary paradigm, we manipulated the distance of objects in relation to the fixation so that participants have varying difficulty in processing the objects with peripheral vision. Crucially, we examined whether individuals’ ability to extract extrafoveal information was modulated by a semantically related scene context. Our findings revealed a robust preview effect, although there was no scene context effect and nor a context-preview interaction. Altogether, our data suggest individuals may have chosen to rely on one route of facilitation when the other path is restricted.