1. Neuroscience
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A neural mechanism for contextualizing fragmented inputs during naturalistic vision

  1. Daniel Kaiser  Is a corresponding author
  2. Jacopo Turini
  3. Radoslaw M Cichy
  1. University of York, United Kingdom
  2. Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e48182 doi: 10.7554/eLife.48182


With every glimpse of our eyes, we sample only a small and incomplete fragment of the visual world, which needs to be contextualized and integrated into a coherent scene representation. Here we show that the visual system achieves this contextualization by exploiting spatial schemata, that is our knowledge about the composition of natural scenes. We measured fMRI and EEG responses to incomplete scene fragments and used representational similarity analysis to reconstruct their cortical representations in space and time. We observed a sorting of representations according to the fragments' place within the scene schema, which occurred during perceptual analysis in the occipital place area and within the first 200ms of vision. This schema-based coding operates flexibly across visual features (as measured by a deep neural network model) and different types of environments (indoor and outdoor scenes). This flexibility highlights the mechanism's ability to efficiently organize incoming information under dynamic real-world conditions.

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Author details

  1. Daniel Kaiser

    Department of Psychology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9007-3160
  2. Jacopo Turini

    Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Radoslaw M Cichy

    Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KA4683/2-1)

  • Daniel Kaiser

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (CI241/1-1)

  • Radoslaw M Cichy

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (CI241/3-1)

  • Radoslaw M Cichy

H2020 European Research Council (ERC-2018-StG 803370)

  • Radoslaw M Cichy

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: All participants provided informed written consent. All procedures were approved by the ethical committee of the Department of Education and Psychology at Freie Universität Berlin (reference 140/2017) and were in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Huan Luo, Peking University, China

Publication history

  1. Received: May 3, 2019
  2. Accepted: October 8, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 9, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: October 21, 2019 (version 2)


© 2019, Kaiser et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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