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Cindy Bukach, Jessie Peissig, Wesley Meredith, Sophia Minassian, Austen Winkler; LImits of Expertise: Investigating the Role of Holistic Processing in Visual Discrimination and Recognition. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1140. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1140.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Category boundaries are dynamic and change with experience, and may be very different for experts than for novices, leading to unexpected failures of generalization that provide a unique window into the nature of neural plasticity. Bird watchers (n = 22) and age-matched novices (25) from the East Coast USA completed a recognition memory task (Vanderbilt Expertise Task/VET) and questionnaires assessing quantity and quality of experience. Participants also completed tasks of visual discrimination and holistic processing (Composite task) for birds from East and West Coast USA and Asia to assess generalization of expert skills. Although experts showed superior visual discrimination of birds overall, only Experts showed an other-region effect (ORE) for Asian birds. Quality of experience only marginally predicted expert performance on the VET (r = .39, p = .073), but was a strong predictor of expert visual discrimination of own region birds (r = .604, p = .003 and of the ORE for Asian birds (r =.486 p = .022). Both groups processed birds holistically, but groups showed opposite relationships between holistic processing and visual discrimination. The two measures were marginally positively correlated for Experts (r = .44, p = .077), but negatively correlated for novices (r =-.55, p = .010). Similarly, for experts, holistic ORE was positively correlated with visual discrimination ORE for West Coast birds (r = .53, p = .031), and negatively correlated with Novice visual discrimination ORE for Asian birds (r = -.52, p = .016). The nature of the holistic representation may differ for experts and novices, and/or that novices mistake the diagnostic value of the information they obtain. Taken together, the results of this study are consistent with the idea that individuating experience changes the structure of category representations, and that holistic processing plays a role in transfer of visual discrimination skills.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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