Scene grammar shapes the way we interact with objects, strengthens memories, and speeds search

  • Predictions of environmental rules (here referred to as "scene grammar") can come in different forms: seeing a toilet in a living room would violate semantic predictions, while finding a toilet brush next to the toothpaste would violate syntactic predictions. The existence of such predictions has usually been investigated by showing observers images containing such grammatical violations. Conversely, the generative process of creating an environment according to one’s scene grammar and its effects on behavior and memory has received little attention. In a virtual reality paradigm, we either instructed participants to arrange objects according to their scene grammar or against it. Subsequently, participants’ memory for the arrangements was probed using a surprise recall (Exp1), or repeated search (Exp2) task. As a result, participants’ construction behavior showed strategic use of larger, static objects to anchor the location of smaller objects which are generally the goals of everyday actions. Further analysis of this scene construction data revealed possible commonalities between the rules governing word usage in language and object usage in naturalistic environments. Taken together, we revealed some of the building blocks of scene grammar necessary for efficient behavior, which differentially influence how we interact with objects and what we remember about scenes.

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Author:Dejan DraschkowORCiDGND, Melissa Lê-Hoa VõORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Scientific reports
Publisher:Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2017
Date of first Publication:2017/11/28
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/05/03
Tag:Human behaviour; Long-term memory
Issue:1, Art. 16471
Page Number:12
First Page:1
Last Page:12
Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0