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Mohsen Rafiei, Andrey Chetverikov, Sabrina Hansmann-Roth, Árni Kristjánsson; You see what you look for: Targets and distractors in visual search can cause opposing serial dependencies. Journal of Vision 2021;21(10):3. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.10.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual perception is, at any given moment, strongly influenced by its temporal context—what stimuli have recently been perceived and in what surroundings. We have previously shown that to-be-ignored items produce a bias upon subsequent perceptual decisions that acts in parallel with other biases induced by attended items. However, our previous investigations were confined to biases upon the perceived orientation of a visual search target, and it is unclear whether these biases influence perceptual decisions in a more general sense. Here, we test whether the biases from visual search targets and distractors affect the perceived orientation of a neutral test line, one that is neither a target nor a distractor. To do so, we asked participants to search for an oddly oriented line among distractors and report its location for a few trials and next presented a test line irrelevant to the search task. Participants were asked to report the orientation of the test line. Our results indicate that in tasks involving visual search, targets induce a positive bias upon a neutral test line if their orientations are similar, whereas distractors produce an attractive bias for similar test lines and a repulsive bias if the orientations of the test line and the average orientation of the distractors are far apart in feature space. In sum, our results show that both attentional role and proximity in feature space between previous and current stimuli determine the direction of biases in perceptual decisions.
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