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Christian Olivers, Daniel Schreij; Object representations maintain attentional control settings across space and time. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):141. doi: 10.1167/11.11.141.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
For stable perception it is important to keep track of objects across space and time. It has been proposed that spatiotemporal episodic representations, or object files, serve exactly this purpose. What type of information can be maintained within an object file? We provide evidence that object files retain specific attentional control settings for relevant parts of the objects. In our experiments, the objects were entire visual search displays consisting of a target and multiple distractor items. Target properties (such as location or color) could repeat from trial to trial, which led to selection benefits compared to when the target changed. Importantly, also from trial to trial, the whole display moved in and out of view behind a wall, such that the movement trajectory suggested that either the same, or a different display had emerged. Repetition benefits (or switch costs) for the search target were greater when the spatiotemporal characteristics were consistent with the idea of the same display object re-appearing. This same object benefit occurred for the target location as well as for the target-defining feature (here shape), but not for irrelevant target or distractor features (here color). Subsequent experiments showed that it is the spatiotemporal consistency of the object that is important. A change in object identity did not disrupt the same object benefit, but inconsistent spatial jumps or temporal gaps did. We conclude that spatiotemporal consistency is an important carrier for object representations, and that these representations include specific attentional control settings that have been applied to the same object before.
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