Category-specificity can emerge from bottom-up visual characteristics: evidence from a modular neural network
The role of bottom-up visual processes in category-speciWc object recognition has been largely unexplored. We examined the role of low-level visual characteristics in category speciWc recognition using a modular neural network comprising both unsupervised and supervised components. One hundred standardised pictures from ten diVerent categories (Wve living and Wve nonliving, including body parts and musical instruments) were presented to a Kohonen self-organising map (SOM) which re-represents the visual stimuli by clustering them within a smaller number of dimensions. The SOM representations were then used to train an attractor network to learn the superordinate category of each item. The ease with which the model acquired the category mappings was investigated with respect to emerging category eVects. We found that the superordinates could be separated by very low-level visual factors (as extracted by the SOM). The model also accounted for the well documented atypicality of body parts and musical instrument superordinates. The model has clear relevance to human object recognition since the model was quicker to learn more typical category exemplars and Wnally the model also accounted for more than 20% of the naming variance in a sample of 57 brain injured subjects. We conclude that purely bottom-up visual characteristics can explain some important features of category-speciWc phenomena.