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Nicole Jardine, Cathleen Moore; The precise role of surface structure in spatial attention. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):675. doi: 10.1167/17.10.675.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual attention operates on representations informed by surface structure (e.g., He & Nakayama, 1992). Surfaces can provide benefits that spatial information alone cannot. During search for a shape target among distractors, observers could not use spatial cues to prevent distraction from an additional color singleton outside the cued locations. They could, however, use surface cues to prevent distraction from color singletons on uncued surfaces (Vatterott & Vecera, 2015). This was a novel demonstration that surfaces can allow the attentional window to be configured to suppress noncontiguous locations, with significant implications for the processes that determine spatial selection and suppression. One concern about these displays, however, is displays with Surface structure contained more visual heterogeneity and differing contrast than those with Location cues. The differing levels of heterogeneity could produce the observed differing pattern of distraction for Location and Surface cues. In this set of experiments, we first replicated Vatterott & Vecera's findings. We then generated background stimuli that balanced the visual heterogeneity and clutter between Location and Surface conditions. The alignment or misalignment of components of these stimuli either formed or disrupted illusory object contours. Using these balanced displays produced a pattern of results different from those of Vatterott & Vecera. As such, the flexibility of spatial attentional control that is informed by surface structure remains an open question that our ongoing work examining covert and overt shifts of attention will answer.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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