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Anna Shafer-Skelton, Timothy Brady; "Scene layout" priming relies primarily on low-level features rather than scene layout. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):143. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.143.
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Surprisingly little work has investigated how scene layout information is maintained in memory. One set of studies that has addressed this question uses a scene priming paradigm (e.g., Sanocki & Epstein, 1997), in which different types of previews are presented to participants shortly before they judge which of two regions of a scene is closer in depth to the viewer. Experiments using this paradigm have been widely cited as evidence that scene layout information is stored across brief delays. However, most studies showing this benefit use the scenes themselves or detailed line drawings as previews, with extremely short delays between the preview images and target images. This allows participants' performance to be facilitated by abrupt onsets of the target objects rather than the storage of layout information across the delay. Thus, we sought to examine the extent to which such preview benefits could be due to lower-level visual information held in sensory memory. Using the original (Sanocki & Epstein, 1997) stimuli and timing, we replicated both the photograph and the line drawing preview benefit. However, we also included a manipulation in which the delay between the preview and the target image was lengthened (from 84ms to 200ms) and filled with dynamic visual masks. If the line drawing and photo preview benefits are due to the ability to detect sudden onsets using sensory memory, this manipulation should reduce or abolish the line drawing and photo preview benefits. Indeed, neither preview benefit remained in the masked condition (t's< 1.21 and p's>0.22; N=306), and both effects were significantly decreased relative to the un-masked condition (line drawings: t(305)=3.04, p=0.003; photos: t(305)=3.14, p=0.002). These results suggest that scene priming paradigms may primarily pick up on lower-level visual information held in sensory memory rather than scene layout information.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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