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Andrew J. Mojica, Mary A. Peterson; Semantic Priming Affects Figure Assignment. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):714. doi: 10.1167/13.9.714.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Figure assignment entails competition between object properties on opposite sides of borders. The figure is perceived on the side of the border that wins the competition. Ample evidence indicates that configural familiarity is among the competing object properties. Here we investigate whether priming the semantics of a familiar object suggested along one side of a border increases its likelihood of winning the competition. To prime semantics we presented brief masked exposures of object names before brief masked exposures of displays where a portion of a familiar object was suggested on one side of a central border separating two equal area black and white regions. Participants reported whether the figure lay on the left or right side of the central border (side and color of the familiar configuration were balanced). Participants were unaware of the presence of the word prime. The word named either the Same Object (SO) or a Different Object (DO) as the familiar object suggested in the display. In the DO condition, the word named an object either in the Same Category (DO-SC) or a Different Category (DO-DC) as the familiar object suggested in the display, where category was defined as natural versus artificial objects. The familiar configuration was perceived as figure more often in the SC conditions (SO: 74%; DO-SC: 74%) than in the DC condition (DO-DC: 67%), p = 0.013. Thus, the likelihood of perceiving a familiar configuration as figure is increased by prior activation of its semantics. Together with other results supporting the hypothesis that the semantics of objects potentially present on opposite sides of borders are accessed before figure assignment is completed (Peterson, et al., 2012; Sanguinetti & Peterson, VSS 2012), these results indicate that the meaning as well as the shape of familiar configurations is weighed in figure-ground competition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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