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Genevieve Desmarais, Mike Dixon, Eric Roy; The impact of action similarity on visual object identification. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):923. doi: 10.1167/7.9.923.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research has shown that visual similarity influences visual object identification: participants tend to confuse objects that are visually similar rather than objects that are visually dissimilar. It has also been suggested that nonvisual information, for example information about how objects are used, can impact visual object identification. The visual identification of novel objects can be facilitated in some neurological patients by associating novel objects to the names of dissimilar objects. With healthy participants, making novel objects distinct by associating them to non-overlapping features can serve to make them more discriminable when asked to perform same / different judgements. In both cases, the associations are verbally based: novel objects are associated with verbal labels (object names or attributes). We evaluated the impact of visual similarity and action similarity on visual object identification using a learning paradigm where novel associations were formed between objects and actions. We taught participants to associate novel objects with novel actions, and taught them to identify these novel objects with non-word labels. Specific objects were paired with specific actions. Visually similar objects paired with similar actions were confused more often in memory than when these same objects were paired with dissimilar actions. Hence the actions associated with objects served to increase or decrease their separation in memory space, and influenced the ease with which these objects could be identified. These experiments ultimately demonstrated that when identifying stationary objects, the memory of how these object were used dramatically influenced the ability to identify these objects.
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