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Cary Feria; Effects of Distinct Distractor Objects in Multiple Object Tracking. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):306. doi: 10.1167/10.7.306.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies investigating the question of whether feature information is maintained during multiple object tracking (MOT) have found mixed results. The present experiment addresses this question by manipulating the color of some of the distractor objects in MOT. Can the visual system filter out distractors that have a distinct feature from the targets? At the beginning of each trial, several circles were displayed, and 5 of them flashed to designate them as targets. Then the circles moved about the screen. When they stopped moving, one circle was highlighted, and the observer answered whether it was a target or not. On each trial, there were 5 targets, 5 distractors that were identical to the targets, and also several (0, 1, 2, 5, or 10) additional distractors. The additional distractors were either the same color as the targets, or a different color. The highlighted circle was always one of the targets or 5 identical distractors. Tracking performance declined as the number of additional distractors increased, both for same-color and different-color additional distractors. Yet tracking performance was higher when the additional distractors were different in color from the targets. These results demonstrate that distractors hinder tracking, but that if distractors have a distinct feature from targets, the distractors' effect is reduced. However, even featurally distinct distractors interfere with tracking to some extent. These findings show that the visual system can use feature information about objects to facilitate MOT, which supports the claim that feature information can be maintained during tracking.
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