Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Psychology. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 06 December 2023

Scene Perception and Understandinglocked

Scene Perception and Understandinglocked

  • Michelle R. GreeneMichelle R. GreeneBates College


A visual scene is a visual depiction of a real-world environment that supports human activity. The human visual system has evolved through viewing scenes, so studying scene perception allows researchers to understand how the visual system responds to the stimuli it was optimized for. Visual cognition research has established that scenes form a natural kind that is separate from both object recognition and event cognition. Visual scenes have their own category structure as well as unique neural substrates. Visual scene understanding is highly contextual, and observers use regularities among objects and between objects and scenes to leverage scene and object recognition and visual search. In this way, scene understanding forms an interface between pure visual processing and other cognitive processes. A hallmark of human scene understanding is that it can be performed incredibly rapidly—scenes can be easily understood with tens of milliseconds of exposure, even when masked, and neural correlates of scene understanding emerge before 250 ms after stimulus onset. Memory for visual scenes, though outstanding, is biased toward expanding scene representations in space and time. In all, scene understanding is a core component of human cognition that forms an interface between the mind and the world.


  • Cognitive Psychology/Neuroscience

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription