Is the pen mightier than the pen-axe? Correct and incorrect conjunctions of parts in visual search for everyday objects

Y. Takarae, D. T. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The current study was designed to investigate whether object knowledge guides search for natural objects. We examined whether it is possible to locate objects with familiar and meaningful conjunctions of parts (i.e., a real-life object) more quickly than conjunctions of parts from different natural objects. In several experiments, participants were asked to locate a basic-level natural object or its part after viewing its name. Targets were natural objects (e.g., pliers), combination objects (e.g., handles of pliers attached to the barrel of a gun) or isolated object parts (e.g., handles of pliers alone). Search slopes were faster to locate entire objects than parts alone or combination objects, but were not different between parts and combination objects. Therefore, visual search for everyday objects is facilitated by multiple matches between parts and an object representation. However, when the target only partially matches with object representations, the search is not penalized if the unmatched part comes from another object. Therefore, the compatibility of parts may not be coded at this level of processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102a
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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