The development of scene semantics: first ERP indications for the processing of semantic object-scene inconsistencies in 24-month-olds

  • Finding a bottle of milk in the bathroom would probably be quite surprising to most of us. Such a surprised reaction is driven by our strong expectations, learned through experience, that a bottle of milk belongs in the kitchen. Our environment is not randomly organized but governed by regularities that allow us to predict what objects can be found in which types of scene. These scene semantics are thought to play an important role in the recognition of objects. But when during development are the semantic predictions so far implemented that such scene-object inconsistencies would lead to semantic processing difficulties? Here we investigated how toddlers perceive their environments, and what expectations govern their attention and perception. To this aim, we used a purely visual paradigm in an ERP experiment and presented 24-month-olds with familiar scenes in which either a semantically consistent or an inconsistent object would appear. The scene-inconsistency effect has been previously studied in adults by means of the N400, a neural marker responding to semantic inconsistencies across many types of stimuli. Our results show that semantic object-scene inconsistencies indeed elicited an enhanced N400 over the left anterior brain region between 750 and 1150 ms post stimulus onset. This modulation of the N400 marker provides first indications that by the age of two toddlers have already established their scene semantics allowing them to detect a purely visual, semantic object-scene inconsistency. Our data suggest the presence of specific semantic knowledge regarding what objects occur in a certain scene category.

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Author:Laura Maffongelli, Sabine Öhlschläger, Melissa Lê-Hoa VõORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Collabra: Psychology
Publisher:University of California Press
Place of publication:Oakland, CA
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2020/11/23
Date of first Publication:2020/11/23
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/07/30
Tag:development; erps; n400; object-scene inconsistency effect; scene knowledge; scene processing
Issue:1, art. 17707
Page Number:8
First Page:1
Last Page:8
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