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Alexia Zoumpoulaki, Luise Gootjes-Dreesbach, Zara Bergstrom, Abdulmajeed Alsufyani, Howard Bowman; Context matters: Driving perceptual breakthrough through contextual priming. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1037. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1037.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
A common question is whether contextual priming can influence perception through attention allocation. In the presented studies, we adapted an experiment from Arnell et al. (2007) to explore interactions of working memory and visual selection. In that experiment, they investigated what types of stimuli can capture involuntary attention. We wanted to test whether contextual priming can assist perceptual breakthrough of stimuli, which would not have been salient otherwise. In the present experiments, participants had to identify a target word (from a colour category) within an 88ms SOA RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation) stream. Before the streams, questions that prompt answers from different categories (neutral, emotionally arousing, autobiographical, episodic) were presented e.g. "What can be used to write?" Participants were told the questions were irrelevant to the identification task, but that they would at random intervals have to select the previously presented question. Within the stream, before the target, we placed either the answers to these questions or an irrelevant stimulus. We expected accuracy to the target to be impaired if the answers were presented 240ms before the target, but not 700ms before or when an irrelevant was presented. This would be in line with the attentional blink, where perceptual breakthrough of a first RSVP item impairs detection of targets appearing immediately after. The same experiment was repeated without the questions so as to test whether the critical distractors capture attention, independent of contextual priming. Our results show that adding a question can increase breakthrough in RSVP. This effect is not universal and seems to differ between categories of items, which we suggest may be explained through variables such as the extent of contextual priming (match between question and answer). As expected, intrinsically salient items (own name), achieved perceptual breakthrough in absence of priming and emotional arousal was predictive of accuracy.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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