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The Role of Perceptual Information in Familiarity-Based Scene Recognition

  • Alfonso Pitarque (a1) and Belén Sáez (a1)


A method to analyze the role of familiarity in recognizing pictures of everyday scenes is introduced. The idea is to manipulate two within-subjects conditions: an experimental condition where the scenes repeat perceptual information (e.g. buildings and/or vehicles) and a control condition. The results show the two conditions did not differ in terms of hit rates, but in the experimental condition there were significantly fewer false alarms, yielding better results, which supports the findings of past research studies that have used verbal materials. This perceptual facilitation was maintained throughout a week-long retention interval. Finally, a detailed analysis of this facilitation shows it was due to a significant reduction in false alarms on know judgments, emphasizing familiarity's role in explaining this effect.

Presentamos un método para analizar el papel que la familiaridad juega en el reconocimiento de fotografías de escenas cotidianas. La idea consiste en manipular dos condiciones intrasujeto: una condición experimental en la que se presentan fotografías en las que se repite información perceptual (p.e. edificios y/o vehículos) frente a otra condición control. Los resultados muestran que no hay diferencias en las tasas de aciertos de ambas condiciones, pero sí una reducción significativa de las falsas alarmas en la condición experimental, lo que provoca una mejor rendimiento en esta condición, patrón de resultados que coincide con el hallado utilizando materiales verbales. Dicha facilitación perceptual se mantiene así mismo tras una semana del estudio de los materiales. Por último el análisis pormenorizado de dicha facilitación nos muestra que es debida principalmente a una reducción significativa de las falsas alarmas en los juicios saber, lo que remarca el papel que la familiaridad juega en la explicación de dicho efecto.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alfonso Pitarque. Departamento de Metodología, Facultad de Psicología. Avda. Blasco Ibanez 21. 46010 Valencia (Spain). E-mail:


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