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Paul Dassonville, Elizabeth Walter, Katy A. Lunger; Illusions of space, field dependence and the efficiency of working memory. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):476. doi: 10.1167/6.6.476.
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The cognitive construct of field-dependence/independence (FDI) reflects the general tendency of an observer to make use of contextual cues in a wide range of tasks, with field-dependent individuals more reliant on these cues than are field-independent individuals (Witkin, 1956). Traditionally, FDI is quantified by measuring the susceptibility to the Rod-and-Frame Illusion (RFI) or the proficiency at finding figures in the Embedded or Hidden Figures Task (HFT). Here, we demonstrate that FDI generalizes to another illusion of space, the Roelofs effect (however, see also Hudson et al., forthcoming in P&P). We also sought to determine whether FDI and illusion susceptibility are simply manifestations of large individual differences in the efficiency of working memory (Vogel et al. 2005), with some subjects better able to exclude the misleading effects of context from working memory. Subjects underwent a battery of tests, to obtain measurements of working memory capacity/efficiency (K), RFI and Roelofs susceptibility, HFT proficiency, and general cognitive processing speed (symbol-digit coding, SDC). A principle component analysis indicated factors associated with FDI (loaded with RFI, Roelofs and HFT), processing speed (loaded with SDC, HFT and K) and gender (loaded with gender, HFT and K). This pattern of results indicates that field-dependence/independence and illusion susceptibility cannot be explained simply as effects of the individual differences in the efficiency of working memory.
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