The role of higher order image statistics in masking scene gist recognition



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In the present article, we investigated whether higher order image statistics, which are known to be carried by the Fourier phase spectrum, are sufficient to affect scene gist recognition. In Experiment 1, we compared the scene gist masking strength of four masking image types that varied in their degrees of second- and higher order relationships: normal scene images, scene textures, phase-randomized scene images, and white noise. Masking effects were the largest for masking images that possessed significant higher order image statistics (scene images and scene textures) as compared with masking images that did not (phase-randomized scenes and white noise), with scene image masks yielding the largest masking effects. In a control study, we eliminated all differences in the second-order statistics of the masks, while maintaining differences in their higher order statistics by comparing masking by scene textures rather than by their phase-randomized versions, and showed that the former produced significantly stronger gist masking. Experiments 2 and 3 were designed to test whether conceptual masking could account for the differences in the strength of the scene texture and phase-randomized masks used in Experiment 1, and revealed that the recognizability of scene texture masks explained just 1% of their masking variance. Together, the results suggest that (1) masks containing the higher order statistical structure of scenes are more effective at masking scene gist processing than are masks lacking such structure, and (2) much of the disruption of scene gist recognition that one might be tempted to attribute to conceptual masking is due to spatial masking.



Scene gist, Scene categorization, Scene classification, Texture, Layout, Phase-randomization