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Sneha Suresh, John W Roberts, Jason Haberman; An attentional blink for ensemble representations. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):108a. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.108a.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The visual system averages similar features in our environment in a process known as ensemble perception. Substantial evidence suggests ensemble perception effectively operates even with limited attention, providing visual stability in a dynamic visual environment. Such findings raise the possibility that ensembles are robust to the attentional blink, a paradigm in which observers are unable to detect a second target in an RSVP stream after detection of a different, first target. In the current set of experiments, we explored whether ensemble representations are subject to an attentional blink. In our paradigm, observers viewed rapidly presented, cross-hatched patches, created by overlapping two orthogonally oriented gabors. Observers first had to detect a particular feature (T1), which varied across experiments (e.g., vertical or horizontal, red or blue, high or low spatial frequency), after which they had to adjust a test stimulus to match the average of the preceding set (either orientation or color; T2). The time between T1 and T2 varied among 400, 600, and 1800 ms. Adjustment performance improved at 1800 ms, but only when T1 and T2 came from different visual domains. This suggests that it is possible to at least partially blink ensemble information. When the T1 judgment came from the same visual domain as T2 (e.g., two orientation judgments), performance on the averaging task was consistently worse than when T1 came from a different domain (e.g., a color judgment followed by an orientation judgment), and did not vary as a function of ISI. Overall, these results suggest that, even though ensembles are extracted efficiently from the visual environment, they are nonetheless dependent on the availability of attentional resources.
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