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Joshua A. Solomon, Keith A. May, Christopher W. Tyler; Inefficiency of orientation averaging: Evidence for hybrid serial/parallel temporal integration. Journal of Vision 2016;16(1):13. doi: 10.1167/16.1.13.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Intuition suggests that increased viewing time should allow for the accumulation of more visual information, but scant support for this idea has been found in studies of voluntary averaging, where observers are asked to make decisions based on perceived average size. In this paper we examine the dynamics of information accrual in an orientation-averaging task. With orientation (unlike intensive dimensions such as size), it is relatively safe to use an item's physical value as an approximation for its average perceived value. We displayed arrays containing eight iso-eccentric Gabor patterns, and asked six trained psychophysical observers to compare their average orientation with that of probe stimuli that were visible before, during, or only after the presentation of the Gabor array. From the relationship between orientation variance and human performance, we obtained estimates of effective set size, i.e., the number of items that an ideal observer would need to assess in order to estimate average orientation as well as our human observers did. We found that display duration had only a modest influence on effective set size. It rose from an average of ∼2 for 0.1-s displays to an average of ∼3 for 3.3-s displays. These results suggest that the visual computation is neither purely serial nor purely parallel. Computations of this nature can be made with a hybrid process that takes a series of subsamples of a few elements at a time.
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