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Hiu Mei Chow, Li Jingling, Chia-huei Tseng; Collinear integration affects visual search at V1. Journal of Vision 2013;13(10):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.10.24.
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Perceptual grouping plays an indispensable role in figure-ground segregation and attention distribution. For example, a column pops out if it contains element bars orthogonal to uniformly oriented element bars. Jingling and Tseng (2013) have reported that contextual grouping in a column matters to visual search behavior: When a column is grouped into a collinear (snakelike) structure, a target positioned on it became harder to detect than on other noncollinear (ladderlike) columns. How and where perceptual grouping interferes with selective attention is still largely unknown. This article contributes to this little-studied area by asking whether collinear contour integration interacts with visual search before or after binocular fusion. We first identified that the previously mentioned search impairment occurs with a distractor of five or nine elements but not one element in a 9 × 9 search display. To pinpoint the site of this effect, we presented the search display with a short collinear bar (one element) to one eye and the extending collinear bars to the other eye, such that when properly fused, the combined binocular collinear length (nine elements) exceeded the critical length. No collinear search impairment was observed, implying that collinear information before binocular fusion shaped participants' search behavior, although contour extension from the other eye after binocular fusion enhanced the effect of collinearity on attention. Our results suggest that attention interacts with perceptual grouping as early as V1.
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