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Independent Representation of Parts and the Relations Between Them: Evidence From Integrative Agnosia

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2006, 00:00 by Marlene Behrmann, Morris Moscovitch, Mary A. Peterson, Satoru Suzuki
Whether objects are represented as a collection of parts whose relations are coded independently remains a topic of ongoing discussion among theorists in the domain of shape perception. S.M., an individual with integrative agnosia, and neurologically intact (“normal”) individuals learned initially to identify 4 target objects constructed of 2 simple volumetric parts. At test, the targets were mixed with distractors, some of which could be discriminated from the targets on the basis of a mismatching part, whereas the rest could be discriminated only on the basis of the altered spatial arrangements of parts. S.M. learned to identify the target objects, although at a rate slower than that of the normal participants. At test, he correctly rejected distractors on the basis of mismatching parts but was profoundly impaired at rejecting distractors made of the same local components but with mismatching spatial arrangements. These results suggest that encoding the spatial arrangements of parts of an object requires a mechanism that is different from that required for encoding the shape of individual parts, with the former selectively compromised in integrative agnosia.

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