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Timo Stein, Daniel Kaiser, Marius V. Peelen; Interobject grouping facilitates visual awareness. Journal of Vision 2015;15(8):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.8.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In organizing perception, the human visual system takes advantage of regularities in the visual input to perceptually group related image elements. Simple stimuli that can be perceptually grouped based on physical regularities, for example by forming an illusory contour, have a competitive advantage in entering visual awareness. Here, we show that regularities that arise from the relative positioning of complex, meaningful objects in the visual environment also modulate visual awareness. Using continuous flash suppression, we found that pairs of objects that were positioned according to real-world spatial regularities (e.g., a lamp above a table) accessed awareness more quickly than the same object pairs shown in irregular configurations (e.g., a table above a lamp). This advantage was specific to upright stimuli and abolished by stimulus inversion, meaning that it did not reflect physical stimulus confounds or the grouping of simple image elements. Thus, knowledge of the spatial configuration of objects in the environment shapes the contents of conscious perception.
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