September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Category supersedes identity in visual search: Attentional templates reflect participants' category knowledge in both item and set searches
Author Affiliations
  • Brianna McGee
    University of California, Riverside
  • Chelsea Echiverri
    University of California, Riverside
  • Benjamin Zinszer
    University of Rochester
  • Rachel Wu
    University of California, Riverside
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 87. doi:
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      Brianna McGee, Chelsea Echiverri, Benjamin Zinszer, Rachel Wu; Category supersedes identity in visual search: Attentional templates reflect participants' category knowledge in both item and set searches. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):87. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Prior research has shown that category search is similar to 1-item search (as measured by the N2pc ERP marker of attentional selection) because items in a category can be grouped into one attentional template. The present study investigated whether the perceived size of a familiar category impacts the attentional template used when searching for a category or specific items from that category. Critically, the perceived size of the categories was based on prior knowledge, rather than the experimental stimuli. We presented participants with sixteen items: eight from a smaller category (social media logos) and eight from a larger category (manufacturing company logos). We predicted that search for smaller categories would rely on a better-defined attentional template compared to larger companies, and therefore produce a larger N2pc. Twenty adult participants completed four search tasks: Search 1) specific social media logo (e.g., Facebook); Search 2) specific manufacturing logo (e.g., Xbox); Search 3) any social media logo; Search 4) any manufacturing logo. Neither reaction time nor accuracy differed between searches for social media logos or manufacturing logos, and familiarity measures showed that both categories were equally familiar to the participants. However, only searches in the social media category (for either a specific item or any item from the category) produced a significant N2pc. No N2pc was found in either item or category search for manufacturing logos. Our results show that participants' knowledge about a category's size influences the way they search for both a specific item from the category and the whole category.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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