August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Search templates can be adapted to the context, but only for unfamiliar targets.
Author Affiliations
  • Mary Bravo
    Psychology, Rutgers-Camden
  • Hany Farid
    Computer Science, Dartmouth College
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 1076. doi:
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      Mary Bravo, Hany Farid; Search templates can be adapted to the context, but only for unfamiliar targets.. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1076.

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

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When observers search repeatedly for a target in a particular context, they learn a target template that is optimized for that context. If the same object is encountered in a different context, observers may learn a different target template. Can observers learn multiple templates for the same object and switch among these templates depending on the context? In an earlier study, we trained observers to search for a target in three contexts (three types of distractors). We then intermixed the contexts and found that search for the target was faster when observers were given a cue that allowed them to anticipate the context. We concluded that observers were switching their target template depending on the context (VSS 2012). This year, we ruled out the alternative explanation that observers use the cue to suppress the context. To do this, we repeated the experiment but randomly varied the target across trials. The context cue no longer benefited search, supporting the idea that observers used the context cue to switch their target template rather than suppress the context. We also tested whether observers could develop multiple search templates for a target that was already very familiar. We again repeated our original experiment, but we first pre-trained observers to discriminate the target from a large set of highly similar objects. This pre-training eliminated the effect of the context cue. In total, our results indicate that observers can develop context-specific search templates for unfamiliar targets. If observers have a pre-existing representation of the target, however, they seem unable to adapt their target template to the context.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014


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