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Ting-Yun Chang, Isabel Gauthier; Investigating contextual effects in the Vanderbilt Holistic Processing Task. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1225. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.1225.
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Context can influence measures of holistic processing for non-face objects in the composite matching task, in which observers match object parts in a sequential matching task, while ignoring other parts. In one study, observers were more influenced by the congruency of irrelevant parts for novel objects when parts of the study object were sometimes misaligned, influencing even the trials on which the study parts were aligned. Other work found that novel objects were processed more holistically when a face was held in working memory. A new version of the composite paradigm, using 3-AFC trials, was recently created to provide reliable measurement of individual differences in holistic processing (Richler, Floyd, & Gauthier, 2015). In this paradigm, we examined whether holistic processing for novel objects processed by novices is sensitive to context. In Experiment 1 (n=89), we measured holistic processing for novel objects in the context of other trials in which study objects were misaligned vs. aligned. We found no evidence that context influenced holistic processing. In Experiment 2, we examined holistic processing for novel objects under three different conditions (n=149): (1) no context, (2) among face trials, or (3) among trials for another novel object category. We expected no holistic processing under Conditions 1 and 3 because the observers had no experience with these novel objects, but that aligned faces might induce holistic processing for novel objects in Condition 2. As in Experiment 1, but unlike prior results in the standard composite task, holistic processing was not influenced by context. Despite relatively large samples, we found no evidence of contextual influences on holistic processing in the VHPT. Context could have a larger influence under conditions with more uncertainty at encoding (e.g., when subjects do not know which part of the study object will be relevant on a given trial).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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