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Markus Conci, Hermann J. Müller, Adrian von Mühlenen; Object-based implicit learning in visual search: Perceptual segmentation constrains contextual cueing. Journal of Vision 2013;13(3):15. doi: 10.1167/13.3.15.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In visual search, detection of a target is faster when it is presented within a spatial layout of repeatedly encountered nontarget items, indicating that contextual invariances can guide selective attention (contextual cueing; Chun & Jiang, 1998). However, perceptual regularities may interfere with contextual learning; for instance, no contextual facilitation occurs when four nontargets form a square-shaped grouping, even though the square location predicts the target location (Conci & von Mühlenen, 2009). Here, we further investigated potential causes for this interference-effect: We show that contextual cueing can reliably occur for targets located within the region of a segmented object, but not for targets presented outside of the object's boundaries. Four experiments demonstrate an object-based facilitation in contextual cueing, with a modulation of context-based learning by relatively subtle grouping cues including closure, symmetry, and spatial regularity. Moreover, the lack of contextual cueing for targets located outside the segmented region was due to an absence of (latent) learning of contextual layouts, rather than due to an attentional bias towards the grouped region. Taken together, these results indicate that perceptual segmentation provides a basic structure within which contextual scene regularities are acquired. This in turn argues that contextual learning is constrained by object-based selection.
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