September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Matter over mind: Effects of imagery and perceptual priming on visual attention
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ming-Ray Liao
    Texas A&M University
  • James D Grindell
    Texas A&M University
  • Brian A Anderson
    Texas A&M University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01-DA046410).
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2024. doi:
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      Ming-Ray Liao, James D Grindell, Brian A Anderson; Matter over mind: Effects of imagery and perceptual priming on visual attention. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2024.

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

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Visual mental imagery has been shown to guide attentional selection, but how that compares with visual perception remains unclear. We primed participants by having them focus on the color of a presented square or instructed them to visualize the prompted color in an empty square before every trial. In Experiment 1, participants went on to perform a shape singleton search task where the primed color could serve as target or distractor. In Experiment 2, participants went on to perform a color-word Stroop task where incongruent Stroop stimuli were presented; the hue or word incidentally coincided with the primed color. We found that perceptual priming was stronger than visual imagery priming for both experiments. In Experiment 1, we found a main effect of validity (valid vs. invalid with respect to the prime and subsequent target color) and an interaction between validity and prime type (perceptual vs. imagery). A significant validity effect was observed for each prime type, although it was larger for perceptual primes. With respect to hue in Experiment 2, there was again a significant interaction between validity and prime type, although in this case the validity effect was individually significant only for perceptual primes. Neither type of prime influenced word processing, although there was a marginally significant validity effect for perceptual primes. Taken together, our results suggest that perceptual priming is generally stronger than priming by visual imagery. The influence of imagery primes appears to be restricted to lower-level visual processing, while perceptual priming was evident in both tasks. All data collection was conducted online using JavaScript, JsPsych and JATOS to interface with SONA. A follow-up experiment will compare visual imagery and perceptual priming on visual search for complex, real-world objects.


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