Despite the complexity and diversity of natural scenes, humans are very fast and accurate at identifying basic‐level scene categories. In this paper we develop a new technique (based on Bubbles , Gosselin & Schyns, 2001a; Schyns, Bonnar, & Gosselin, 2002) to determine some
of the information requirements of basic‐level scene categorizations. Using 2400 scenes from an established scene database (Oliva & Torralba, 2001), the algorithm randomly samples the Fourier coefficients of the phase spectrum. Sampled Fourier coefficients retain their original phase
while the phase of nonsampled coefficients is replaced with that of white noise. Observers categorized the stimuli into 8 basic‐level categories. The location of the sampled Fourier coefficients leading to correct categorizations was recorded per trial. Statistical analyses revealed the
major scales and orientations of the phase spectrum that observers used to distinguish scene categories.