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Justin Reed, Ru Qi Yu, Jiaying Zhao; Perceiving order: Visual working memory encoding as a basis for judgment. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):797. doi: 10.1167/16.12.797.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The environment contains many different forms of regularities, such as repetitions (e.g., AAAA) and alternations (e.g., ABAB). While these simple forms of regularities have been studied heavily in the context of randomness perception, another type has received relatively less attention, which involves order (e.g., 12345). How does the visual system represent order? Here we hypothesize that the perceived degree of order is determined by the encoding difficulty in visual working memory. Participants viewed 7-digit sequences with varying degrees of order. A fully ordered sequence was 1234567, and a fully shuffled sequence could be 6231745. Each sequence was presented for 1s, and participants were immediately asked to recall the sequence. After the recall phase, participants rated each sequence on how shuffled it looked. We found that recall accuracy linearly improves with higher degrees of order (Experiment 1). Importantly, recall accuracy correlates with perceived order which is the subjective ratings of how shuffled the sequence looked. We replicated the experiment with sequences of lines with increasing lengths, and found that recall accuracy of line sequences can also be predicted by perceived order (Experiment 2). Using a decreasing order (e.g., 7654321), we found that recall accuracy again improves linearly with higher degrees of order, and can be predicted by perceived order, for both digit sequences (Experiment 3) and line sequences (Experiment 4). Moreover, The length of the sequence (i.e., 7, 8, or 9 digits) did not seem to influence the results (Experiment 5). The current findings provide support for our hypothesis that the perceived degree of order is determined by the encoding difficulty in the visual working memory. This suggests that visual working memory performance can serve as a basis for the judgment of order.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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