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Mary Bravo, Hany Farid; Training determines the target representation for search. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1198. doi: 10.1167/9.8.1198.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Purpose: Visual search is facilitated when observers are pre-cued with the target image. This facilitation arises in part because the pre-cue activates a stored representation of the target. We examined whether training designed to alter the nature of this representation can influence the specificity of the cueing effect.
Methods: The experiment involved a training session and, 1–2 days later, a testing session. For both sessions, the stimuli were photo-composites of coral reef scenes and the targets were images of tropical fish. The observer's task was to judge whether a fish was present in each reef scene. During training, observers practiced searching for 3 exemplars of 4 fish species. Half the observers searched for the 12 fish in 12 separate blocks (blocked-by-fish group), the other half searched for the three fish belonging to each species in separate blocks (blocked-by-species group). During testing, the observers were shown a brief pre-cue one second before the search stimulus. The pre-cues were either identical to the target, the same species as the target, or, as a control, the word “fish”.
Prediction: During training, we expected that the blocked-by-fish group would develop a specific representation for each of the 12 fish images, while the blocked-by-species group would develop a more general representation of the 4 fish species. We expected this difference to show up during testing as a difference in the specificity of the cueing effect.
Results: For the blocked-by-fish group, pre-cues facilitated search for identical targets but not same-species targets. For the blocked-by-species group, pre-cues facilitated search for identical targets as well as same-species targets.
Conclusion: The pattern of cueing effects suggests that observers trained on the same visual search stimuli can form different representations of the target.
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