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Eric Clapham, Alex Richardson, Kerry Tarrant, Jessica Decker; Nonconscious Enhancement of Peripheral Vision. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1240. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.1240.
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Considering the anatomy and organization of the visual system, perception in the periphery should be a highly blurry experience, but it isn't. Anecdotally, we seems to experience a detailed visual awareness throughout our visual fields. The obvious culprit for such enhancements is top down processing. We hypothesized that the information driving these top down affects is obtained during scene scanning. To address this line of thinking a nonconscious repetition priming paradigm was used to simulate the conditions occurring during scene scanning, namely a brief exposure to an image that is not necessarily rememberable. Our goal was to explore how such information might contribute to the experience of visual consciousness, one that seems filled with details and clarity. All experimental trials began with a fixation point, then the presentation of a 30 ms masked prime (full spectrum and high or low spatial frequency images), followed by two briefly presented target images (150 ms). Target stimuli were filtered to create equally appearing blurry images. Participants, however, believed that the target items varied in level of blurriness. Target stimuli were either congruent (i.e. a filtered version of the previously presented prime), or incongruent (i.e. a filtered images that differed from the prime). The experimental task was to indicate which of the 2 target images was more easily identified or clearer. Consistent with previous findings congruent target images were perceived as the clearer and more identifiable images significantly more often than was expected. The results suggest that limited awareness of objects within one's visual environment can enhance the perceived clarity of those items, even as they drift into peripheral visual fields. Taken together these results provide compelling evidence that a large portion of our visual experience is being shaped by information gathered during scene scanning, even in the absence of conscious awareness.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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