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Yijun Ge, Sheng He; Transformation of spatial reference frame in the absence of awareness. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1227. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1227.
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Despite the continuous movements of our eyes and body, our visual world remains stable. Key to this visual stability is the transformation of visual objects from the retinotopic to spatiotopic reference frame. Does this transformation require awareness of the target visual objects? We addressed this question using an adaptation paradigm, with the test stimulus presented either at the same retinotopic or spatiotopic location as the adapting stimulus. The logic is that if an aftereffect could be observed at the spatiotopic location, then it would imply that the adapting stimulus had undergone retinotopic to spatiotopic transformation. We first identified stimuli that are capable of generating spatiotopic aftereffects, and then the key manipulation is to render the adapting stimulus invisible (using continuous flash suppression) and investigate whether the spatiotopic aftereffects could still be observed. Two forms of visual aftereffects were employed in this study: the Tilt Aftereffect (TAE) and Face Gender Aftereffect (FGAE). First we demonstrated that both aftereffects could be induced when the test stimulus was at the same spatiotopic but different retinotopic location as the adapting stimulus, suggesting that the representation of the adapting stimulus underwent the retinotopic to spatiotopic transformation. Critically, when the adapting stimulus was rendered invisible, the TAE could only be observed at the retinotopic location but no longer at the spatiotopic location; however, the FGAE was still robust at the spatiotopic location. Thus our results suggest that, in the absence of awareness, the transformation from retinotopic reference frame to spatiotopic reference frame is stimulus dependent: face information could be transformed to spatiotopic reference frame without awareness while local orientation representation remain specific to its retinotopic location.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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