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Many models of object identification are bottom-up and serial in nature; processing at a first stage needs to be complete before it is passed on to a subsequent stage, and there is no top-down feedback from the later to the earlier stages. However, data on picture identification in normal observers contradict a strict serial account of processing, since effects of variables on early and late stages of object identification combine in an interactive rather than an additive manner. Recent neuropsychological and functional anatomical data also indicate that object identification involves top-down activation of earlier stages of visual processing. In neuropsychological patients, subtle perceptual deficits can produce naming problems, even when there is good access to associated semantic knowledge; in functional activation studies, there is increased activity in visual processing areas when conditions require object naming relative to object recognition. These studies provide evidence that increased visual processing occurs in identification tasks, suggesting that there is re-current feedback during the identification process.

Original publication




Journal article


Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Publication Date





1275 - 1282