June 2006
Volume 6, Issue 6
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2006
Parts to wholes: Configural learning fundamentally changes the visual information processing system
Author Affiliations
  • Leslie M. Blaha
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University
  • James T. Townsend
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University
Journal of Vision June 2006, Vol.6, 675. doi:10.1167/6.6.675
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      Leslie M. Blaha, James T. Townsend; Parts to wholes: Configural learning fundamentally changes the visual information processing system. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):675. doi: 10.1167/6.6.675.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Models of configural processing often neglect an explanation of how configural mechanisms and representations develop in visual perception. Employing standard information processing models (see Townsend & Ashby, 1983), we investigate how configural learning via perceptual unitization affects and is affected by the underlying information processing system. Over the course of training in a conjunctive categorization task, participants unitized a novel object by perceptually joining individual features into fewer, larger features, leading to a single, holistic representation. Using the capacity coefficient (Wenger & Townsend, 2000), which provides an index of work-load efficiency, we demonstrate that the configural learning process leads to a qualitative shift from extremely limited- to extremely super-capacity processing due to the effective reduction in work load via unitization. Thus, configural learning qualitatively changes the way configural information is processed; additionally, after training, the processing system is consistent with Townsend and Wenger's (2001) working model of configural processing: an exhaustive parallel or coactive system with facilitatory channel interactions which exhibits super-capacity processing. We have modeled these capacity changes with a neurologically-motivated Hebbian learning rule embedded in a parallel system; limited capacity is produced by negative interactions and super capacity by positive interactions (Townsend & Blaha, In Preparation). Alternatively, the shift in capacity could reflect a structural change in architecture from slow, serial processing to fast, parallel processing. Current experiments investigate processing architecture in order to determine which system best captures the essence of configural learning.

Blaha, L. M. Townsend, J. T. (2006). Parts to wholes: Configural learning fundamentally changes the visual information processing system [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 6(6):675, 675a, http://journalofvision.org/6/6/675/, doi:10.1167/6.6.675. [CrossRef]
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