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Ryan J. Murdock, Mark Lavelle, Roy Luria, Trafton Drew; Increasing target template precision decreases distractor recognition in hybrid search. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2649. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2649.
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Suppose you were at the grocery store with a memorized list of products to look for. After finding all of your groceries, would you remember any of the products you saw that were not on the list? Could the length of your grocery list and the similarity of the items on it determine the quality of your memory for those products you did not purchase and were not looking for? Prior research shows that distractors in visual search can be incidentally encoded into memory and that increasing the search difficulty leads to better retention. To examine the effect of template precision on distractor memory, we employed a hybrid search paradigm in which the number of and similarity of target images within the memory set were manipulated between blocks. Participants memorized sets of 2 or 16 images with all images in a set being either in the same category (high uniformity condition) or all from different categories (low uniformity). They then searched for targets from the memory set within a visual array among distractors. All distractors were sampled from different categories and appeared roughly 30 times throughout the experiment. Finally, participants completed a surprise memory test on their recognition for distractor images. Each distractor appeared alongside a novel foil image that was sampled from the same category as the distractor but had never been previously displayed. We found that memory sets with a higher number of images had higher levels of distractor recognition and that memory sets with lower uniformity had higher distractor recognition. These factors interacted such that recognition of distractors was higher for memory sets with both lower uniformity and more images. Our results suggest that target template precision can account for some changes in distractor memory.
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