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Li Jingling, Chia-Huei Tseng, Li Zhaoping; Orientation is different: Interaction between contour integration and feature contrasts in visual search. Journal of Vision 2013;13(3):26. doi: 10.1167/13.3.26.
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Salient items usually capture attention and are beneficial to visual search. Jingling and Tseng (2013), nevertheless, have discovered that a salient collinear column can impair local visual search. The display used in that study had 21 rows and 27 columns of bars, all uniformly horizontal (or vertical) except for one column of bars orthogonally oriented to all other bars, making this unique column of collinear (or noncollinear) bars salient in the display. Observers discriminated an oblique target bar superimposed on one of the bars either in the salient column or in the background. Interestingly, responses were slower for a target in a salient collinear column than in the background. This opens a theoretical question of how contour integration interacts with salience computation, which is addressed here by an examination of how salience modulated the search impairment from the collinear column. We show that the collinear column needs to have a high orientation contrast with its neighbors to exert search interference. A collinear column of high contrast in color or luminance did not produce the same impairment. Our results show that orientation-defined salience interacted with collinear contour differently from other feature dimensions, which is consistent with the neuronal properties in V1.
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