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Árni Kristjánsson; Learning in shifts of transient attention improves recognition of parts of ambiguous figure-ground displays. Journal of Vision 2009;9(4):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.4.21.
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Previously demonstrated learning effects in shifts of transient attention have only been shown to result in beneficial effects upon secondary discrimination tasks and affect landing points of express saccades. Can such learning result in more direct effects upon perception than previously demonstrated? Observers performed a cued Vernier acuity discrimination task where the cue was one of a set of ambiguous figure-ground displays (with a black and white part). The critical measure was whether, if a target appeared consistently within a part of a cue of a certain brightness, this would result in learning effects and whether such learning would then affect recognition of the cue parts. Critically the target always appeared within the same part of each individual cue. Some cues were used in early parts of streaks of repetition of cue-part brightness, and others in latter parts of such streaks. All the observers showed learning in shifts of transient attention, with improved performance the more often the target appeared within the part of the cue of the same brightness. Subsequently the observers judged whether cue-parts had been parts of the cues used on the preceding discrimination task. Recognition of the figure parts, where the target had consistently appeared, improved strongly with increased length of streaks of repetition of cue-part brightness. Learning in shifts of transient attention leads not only to faster attention shifts but to direct effects upon perception, in this case recognition of parts of figure-ground ambiguous cues.
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