August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Shape beyond recognition: How object form biases spatial attention and motion perception
Author Affiliations
  • Heida M. Sigurdardottir
    Department of Neuroscience, Brown University
  • Suzanne M. Michalak
    Department of Neuroscience, Brown University
  • David L. Sheinberg
    Department of Neuroscience, Brown University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 665. doi:
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      Heida M. Sigurdardottir, Suzanne M. Michalak, David L. Sheinberg; Shape beyond recognition: How object form biases spatial attention and motion perception. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):665. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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It is quite clear that an object’s shape provides essential information for recognition, but the role shape plays in recognition should not be taken as evidence that it is not also important in other visual processes. In the current set of experiments, we explored how the shape of randomly generated novel objects affects the allocation of attention and the perception of motion.

We first asked a group of subjects to indicate where each shape pointed or directed them (Exps 1,2). The shapes’ perceived directionality was used as a variable of interest in subsequent experiments with a new set of subjects. We found that an object’s shape automatically guided attention in the direction to which it was judged to point (Exps 3,4). This cueing effect was very rapid and its time course resembled that of exogenous transient visual attention. Participants were also significantly faster and more accurate at judging the direction of apparent motion stimuli when the motion was congruent with the shapes’ judged directionality (Exp 5).

Interaction with a constantly changing visual world requires observers to efficiently extract information about the current state of the environment to make predictions about where important things will be in the near future. Our experiments indicate that the shape of an object is automatically integrated into such computations, thus biasing where one looks and pays attention. Surprisingly, this shape-induced bias also affects motion processing – a process often studied using stimuli specifically devoid of shape. Here, we show that the visual system appears to make predictions about an object’s movement based on its shape, demonstrating that an object’s shape is involved in more than recognition.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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