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Timo Stein, Volker Thoma, Philipp Sterzer; Priming of object detection under continuous flash suppression depends on attention but not on part-whole configuration. Journal of Vision 2015;15(3):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.3.15.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research has shown that the identification of visual objects can rely on both view-dependent, holistic as well as view-independent, analytic representation, depending on visual attention. Here, we asked whether the initial conscious detection of objects reveals similar dependencies and may therefore share similar perceptual mechanisms. We used continuous flash suppression to render objects presented in familiar views invisible at the beginning of a trial and recorded the time these target objects needed to break into awareness. Target objects were preceded by spatially attended or unattended primes that were either shown in the same familiar view as the targets or horizontally split (i.e., with their halves swapping positions) in order to disrupt holistic processing. Relative to an unprimed baseline, suppression times were shorter for all priming conditions. Although spatial attention enhanced this priming effect on access to awareness, even unattended primes facilitated awareness of a related target, indicating that object detection does not fully concur with the idea of attention-demanding analytic object representations. Moreover, priming effects were of similar strength for primes shown in the same familiar view as the targets and for horizontally split primes, indicating that holistic (template-like) representations do not play an integral role in object detection. These results suggest that the initial detection of an object relies on representations of object features rather than holistic representations used for recognition. The perceptual mechanisms mediating conscious object detection are therefore markedly different from those underlying object identification.
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