September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Understanding failures to replicate the influence of grouping cues on the flanker-congruency effect
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cathleen M Moore
    University of Iowa
  • Sihan He
    University of Iowa
  • J Toby Mordkoff
    University of Iowa
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 46. doi:
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      Cathleen M Moore, Sihan He, J Toby Mordkoff; Understanding failures to replicate the influence of grouping cues on the flanker-congruency effect. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):46. doi:

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

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In spatial filtering tasks, observers respond to the stimulus in one location (the target) while ignoring stimuli in other locations (the flankers). However, flankers that are sufficiently close to the target cause response-congruency effects (Eriksen & Eriksen, 1974). Specifically, responses to targets near flankers associated with a competing response are slower and less accurate than responses to targets near flankers associated with the correct response. Nearly 30 years ago, an influential set of papers reported that perceptual manipulations designed to facilitate the grouping of the target with a specific sub-set of the flankers (e.g., common fate, color similarity, good continuation) yielded larger congruency effects for the grouped flankers than for the ungrouped flankers. Strikingly, this held even when the ungrouped flankers were closer to the target than the grouped flankers (Driver & Baylis, 1989; Baylis & Driver, 1992). These findings challenged the dominant “spotlight” view of attention under which visual selection is mediated only by space, and they are still frequently cited despite two published failures to replicate the common-fate version of the experiment (Berry & Klein, 1993; Kramer, Tham, & Yeh, 1991). We sought to further assess the replicability of the original results using grouping cues other than common fate. When we manipulated grouping by color-match, we failed to replicate the dominance of grouped flankers over spatially closer flankers. Moreover, we even failed to replicate the dominance of same-color flankers over different-color flankers when all flankers were equally distant from the target. Only when color uniquely distinguished the target from the flankers did color-match moderate the congruency effect. We suggest that grouping cues influence the parsing of the target from the flankers, rather than altering the amount of filtering applied to the flankers.


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