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Steven Franconeri, Jessica Roth; Spatial relationships as a visual routine: Evidence from linguistic influences on perceptual judgment. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):193. doi: 10.1167/9.8.193.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
There are likely to be a variety of ways that the visual system represents spatial structure among a set of objects. One counter-intuitive possibility is that our visual system represents some spatial relationships like language does, as an ordered sequence over time. That is, to perceive that your computer's mouse is to the right of your keyboard, a covert attentional routine might shift between the two objects. If so, then presenting the two objects in a temporal sequence might help or hinder our ability to judge spatial relationships between objects. We asked participants to judge relationships between red and green circles while presenting either color 233, 183, 133, 83, 33, or 0ms before the other. The first circle gave no information about the response, as the second circle could appear randomly on either side. Before each block of 8 trials, we biased participants toward different routines with the framing of the question, e.g., “Is red to the left of green?” or “Is green to the right of red?” The design crossed the 2 color orderings, 2 directional words (left or right), and temporal priority (red or green), with all possible timings. Response times were faster when the ‘target’ object (e.g., “Is green…”) preceded the ‘reference’ object (e.g., “…of red”), but only at delays of 33 and 83ms. Using a second set of questions, “Which object is to the left (or right)?” response times were faster when the response object (red or green) appeared on the side specified by the question (left or right). This effect was not present for the first set of questions that emphasized featural information over directional information. These interactions of the question's framing and the timing differences between object appearances are consistent with the possibility that static spatial relationships might be represented by dynamic routines.
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