Detecting objects is easier than categorizing them
Two experiments compared performance in an object detection task, in which participants categorized photographs as objects and nonobject textures, and an object categorization task, in which photographs were categorized into basic-level categories. The basic-level categorization task was either easy (e.g., dogs vs. buses) or difficult (e.g., dogs vs. cats). Participants performed similarly in the detection and the easy-categorization tasks, but response times to the difficult-categorization task were slower. This latter finding is difficult to reconcile with the conclusions of Grill-Spector and Kanwisher (2005) who reported equivalent performance on detection and basic-level categorization tasks and took this as evidence that figure?ground segregation and basic-level categorization are mediated by the same mechanism.