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Makayla Szu-Yu Chen, Caitlin Megan Roscherr, Zhe Chen; The role of processing efficiency and selection history in the limit of visual awareness in shape perception. Journal of Vision 2022;22(8):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.8.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A growing body of research indicates that the limit in instant conscious awareness, or the unit of access, for some object features such as color, orientation, and direction of motion is more than one. In four experiments we explored the roles of processing efficiency and selection history in shape perception. Two targets, which were geometric shapes (less efficient) or alphabet letters (more efficient), were shown simultaneously or sequentially. The task was to judge whether a test probe matched one of the targets. In different experiments, the two types of trials were presented in separate blocks, interleaved couplets, or randomly within the same block during testing but regrouped in data analyses such that the same type of trials was either repeated or not repeated. Accuracy was higher in the sequential than simultaneous trials for geometric shapes, but not for upright letters, when the same trial type was blocked or in the repeated condition. These results suggest that processing efficiency and selection history both play a role in the unit of access in shape perception. They also underscore the flexibility of the visual system, which uses different factors to maximize conscious visual perception at a given time.
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