We see the world in scenes, where visual objects occur in rich surroundings, often embedded in a typical context with other related objects. How does the human brain analyse and use these common associations? This article reviews the knowledge that is available, proposes specific mechanisms for the contextual facilitation of object recognition, and highlights important open questions. Although much has already been revealed about the cognitive and cortical mechanisms that subserve recognition of individual objects, surprisingly little is known about the neural underpinnings of contextual analysis and scene perception. Building on previous findings, we now have the means to address the question of how the brain integrates individual elements to construct the visual experience.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I would like to thank members of my lab, E. Aminoff, H. Boshyan, M. Fenske, A. Ghuman, N. Gronau and K. Kassam, as well as A. Torralba, N. Donnelly, M. Chun, B. Rosen and A. Oliva for help with this article. Supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the James S. McDonnell Foundation (21st Century Science Research Award in Bridging Brain, Mind and Behavior) and the MIND Institute.