How low can you go? Detecting style in extremely low resolution images

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Description: Humans can see through the complexity of scenes, faces, and objects by quickly extracting their redundant low-spatial and low-dimensional global properties, or their style. It remains unclear, however, whether semantic coding is necessary, or whether visual stylistic information is sufficient, for people to recognize and discriminate complex images and categories. In two experiments, we systematically reduce the resolution of hundreds of unique paintings, birds, and faces, and test people’s ability to discriminate and recognize them. We show that the stylistic information retained at extremely low image resolutions is sufficient for visual recognition of images, and visual discrimination of categories. Averaging over the three domains, people were able to reliably recognize images reduced down to a single pixel, with large differences from chance discriminability across eight different image resolutions. People were also able to discriminate categories substantially above chance with an image resolution as low as 2×2 pixels. We situate our findings in the context of contemporary computational accounts of visual recognition, and contend that explicit encoding of the local features in the image, or knowledge of the semantic category, is not necessary for recognizing and distinguishing complex visual stimuli.

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  • How low can you go? Detecting style in extremely low resolution images

    Humans can see through the complexity of scenes, faces, and objects by quickly extracting their redundant low-spatial and low-dimensional global prope...

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  • Supplemental Material: Data Summary, Plots, and Analyses

    Includes our final R Markdown report, R Markdown source file, and data summary .txt files for reading into R Studio. To rerun the R Markdown data anal...

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  • Stimuli: Paintings, Birds, and Faces

    We compiled three large sets of images for the 'How low can you go' project, spanning three domains: paintings, birds, and faces. Each set consists of...

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  • Software

    The experiments were programmed in LiveCode Community 7.0.6. LiveCode's Community Edition, is a free open source object-oriented, cross-platform, natu...

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