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Philip Ko, Adriane Seiffert; Surface features facilitate target recovery after a momentary disappearance during multiple object tracking. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):244. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.244.
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When multiple-object tracking, participants attend to several, identical targets moving among distractors. If all objects disappear for a moment, participants are poor at recovering targets when all the objects continue to move during the blank (Keane & Pylyshyn, 2006). This result revealed a difficulty in making a correspondence between different locations of a target before and after a blank, based on motion information. We asked whether a surface feature, namely color, would facilitate target recovery because color is another cue to object correspondence. In addition, we investigated whether such facilitation was more effective when objects moved during the blank compared to when objects paused during the blank. Participants tracked 3 out of 9 colored dots for 6 seconds. Each target dot shared color with two distractors, but did not share color with the other targets. At a random point during tracking, all the dots disappeared and either continued moving or paused while out of view for 350 milliseconds. When the dots reappeared, the target dots either retained their original colors or swapped colors. All dots continued moving until the end of the trial, at which point, all dots stopped moving and turned white. Participants, then, attempted to select the three targets. The results showed impaired tracking when dots moved during the blank (53% correct) compared when they did not (80%), F(1,9) = 59.9, p [[lt]]0.001. However, tracking performance improved when the targets retained their colors upon reappearing (73%) compared to when they swapped colors (60%), F(1,9) = 17.4, p [[lt]]0.01. This benefit was similar whether the dots moved or paused during their disappearance (interaction, F(1,9) [[lt]]1). These results indicate that consistent surface features benefit object correspondence that is based on either position or motion information. Object color helps us continue tracking multiple objects after a momentary disappearance.
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