Context effects on object recognition in real-world environments: A study protocol


Background: The environments that we live in impact on our ability to recognise objects, with recognition being facilitated when objects appear in expected locations (congruent) compared to unexpected locations (incongruent). However, these findings are based on experiments where the object is isolated from its environment. Moreover, it is not clear which components of the recognition process are impacted by the environment. In this experiment, we seek to examine the impact real world environments have on object recognition. Specifically, we will use mobile electroencephalography (mEEG) and augmented reality (AR) to investigate how the visual and semantic processing aspects of object recognition are changed by the environment. Methods: : We will use AR to place congruent and incongruent virtual objects around indoor and outdoor environments. During the experiment a total of 34 participants will walk around the environments and find these objects while we record their eye movements and neural signals. We will perform two primary analyses. First, we will analyse the event-related potential (ERP) data using paired samples t-tests in the N300/400 time windows in an attempt to replicate congruency effects on the N300/400. Second, we will use representational similarity analysis (RSA) and computational models of vision and semantics to determine how visual and semantic processes are changed by congruency. Conclusions: : Based on previous literature, we hypothesise that scene-object congruence would facilitate object recognition. For ERPs, we predict a congruency effect in the N300/N400, and for RSA we predict that higher level visual and semantic information will be represented earlier for congruent scenes than incongruent scenes. By collecting mEEG data while participants are exploring a real-world environment, we will be able to determine the impact of a natural context on object recognition, and the different processing stages of object recognition.