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Lauren Hecht, Shaun Vecera; Temporal extension of figures: Evidence from the attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):286. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.286.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research on figure-ground organization has focused on the behavioral consequences of figure-ground assignment, including faster responses and higher accuracy for figures; however, other outcomes exist. For instance, figure-ground assignment has consequences for temporal processing: perceptual processing begins earlier for figures than for background regions, demonstrating a ‘prior entry’ effect (Lester et al., 2009). Additionally, figures are afforded extended processing relative to backgrounds (Hecht & Vecera, in preparation). One implication of this ‘temporal extension’ effect is that figures have poorer temporal resolution compared to background regions, and detection of a stimulus presented in close temporal proximity to a figure should be impaired relative to detection of a stimulus appearing after a background region. Consequently, performance in tasks requiring rapid temporal processing of items presented in close succession should be impaired for figure regions relative to ground regions. To assess this conjecture, observers monitored an RSVP stream of letters for two targets. The first was a target letter, embossed on the surface of the figure or the background region of a bipartite figure-ground display presented in the RSVP stream. At varying delays in the RSVP sequence, the second target (i.e., a number) appeared in the stream. In accordance with the proposal that figures have degraded temporal resolution relative to background regions, the attentional blink was moderated by figure-ground assignment. Specifically, reports for the second target were less accurate following figure trials. In other words, when the first target appeared on a figure, the attentional blink was larger than when the first target appeared on a background region. These results support the ‘temporal extension’ effect of figures.
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