July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Is an Image Worth a Phonological Representation? Investigating the effect of target-distractor phonological similarity in multiple-target search
Author Affiliations
  • Stephen Walenchok
    Arizona State University
  • Michael Hout
    Arizona State University
  • Stephen Goldinger
    Arizona State University
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 687. doi:10.1167/13.9.687
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      Stephen Walenchok, Michael Hout, Stephen Goldinger; Is an Image Worth a Phonological Representation? Investigating the effect of target-distractor phonological similarity in multiple-target search. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):687. doi: 10.1167/13.9.687.

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

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When people perform visual search, a target "template" is used to guide attention to the location of the target. Such templates typically contain visual information, but what role might linguistic information play in creating representations of to-be-located items? For instance, maintaining visual information about a single target is easy, but when people look for multiple targets, might they rely upon less demanding, verbal codes? We investigated this question by comparing visual and phonological competition effects in visual search. In different displays, participants searched for visual targets among visually similar distractors or searched for visual targets among phonologically similar distractors. In the latter case, targets and distractors shared phonological onsets (e. g., "banjo" and "bucket"). In both cases, search was compared to control displays, either with uniformly dissimilar or random controls. Visual competition effects were robust; finding a baseball among other orb-shaped distractors was difficult, relative to rectangular or randomly mixed distractors. Phonological similarity effects were more challenging to observe: In Experiment 1, we used a standard visual search task, varying target load (single versus multiple-target search) and template versus categorical-search. We expected participants to rely more upon verbal search templates during multiple-target search, and when words were used to define targets. Nonetheless, the results revealed strong effects of visual, but not phonological, interference in all conditions. In Experiment 2, we intensified the phonological similarity among depicted objects, with greater overlap among object names (e. g., "bean" and "beaver"). In this case, we did observe phonological interference effects in both template and categorical search conditions, especially in multiple-target search. The results suggest that verbal codes may be active in visual search, but that their use is not ubiquitous.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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