Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Predictions of environmental rules (here referred to as "scene grammar") can come in different forms: seeing a toilet in a living room would violate semantic predictions, while finding a toilet brush next to the toothpaste would violate syntactic predictions. The existence of such predictions has usually been investigated by showing observers images containing such grammatical violations. Conversely, the generative process of creating an environment according to one's scene grammar and its effects on behavior and memory has received little attention. In a virtual reality paradigm, we either instructed participants to arrange objects according to their scene grammar or against it. Subsequently, participants' memory for the arrangements was probed using a surprise recall (Exp1), or repeated search (Exp2) task. As a result, participants' construction behavior showed strategic use of larger, static objects to anchor the location of smaller objects which are generally the goals of everyday actions. Further analysis of this scene construction data revealed possible commonalities between the rules governing word usage in language and object usage in naturalistic environments. Taken together, we revealed some of the building blocks of scene grammar necessary for efficient behavior, which differentially influence how we interact with objects and what we remember about scenes.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Rep

Publication Date