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New Research On Visual Perception From Psychological Science

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Read about the latest research on visual perception from Psychological Science.

Inattention Abolishes Binocular Rivalry: Perceptual Evidence

Jan W. Brascamp and Randolph Blake

Binocular rivalry occurs when a different image is shown to each eye and instead of seeing one image, the viewer shifts between the two images. In this study, researchers examined the effects of attention on binocular rivalry by presenting participants with visually different stimuli in each eye. Participants were asked to attend to both rival stimuli (attended condition), were prevented from attending to one of the rival visual images (unattended condition), or were presented with a stimulus that did not produce visual rivalry (absent condition). Researchers found that participants’ reports about what they saw in the unattended condition and the absent condition were the same. This indicates that removing attention from a rival stimulus abolishes binocular rivalry.

Learning to Break Camouflage by Learning the Background

Xin Chen and Jay Hegdé
The authors of this study investigated how people learn to recognize a camouflaged object — also known as breaking camouflage. According to Signal Detection Theory, people learn the general statistical properties of a background and break camouflage by comparing the statistics of the background with a target versus the statistics of the same background without a target. In a series of studies, participants were trained to recognize camouflaged objects in several pictures with backgrounds that had the same statistical properties. Researchers found that participants’ ability to detect camouflaged objects in novel scenes improved after this training. These results suggest that being trained on how to break camouflage can help people improve their ability to learn the statistical properties of backgrounds, which in turn leads to improved camouflage breaking even in novel situations.

Face Aftereffects Predict Individual Differences in Face Recognition Ability

Hugh W. Dennett, Elinor McKone, Mark Edwards, and Tirta Susilo

Face aftereffects — temporary perceptual distortions caused by exposure to faces — are often used to examine face-space coding of identity. In this study, the researchers measured face aftereffects to determine whether increased face-space coding of identity is related to better recognition of faces. Participants performed a face-height adaptation test to assess the extent to which they experienced face aftereffects. Participants also performed the Cambridge face memory test and the Cambridge car memory test. Researchers found a significant correlation between face aftereffects and face recognition but not between face aftereffects and car recognition. These findings indicate that individual differences in face-space coding exist and that they contribute to differences in face recognition.

Emergent Filling In Induced by Motion Integration Reveals a High-Level Mechanism in Filling In

Zhicheng Lin and Sheng He

In this study, the researchers examined the role of early- and late-stage visual areas in emergent filling-in — when a distinct, completed feature arises from local features. Participants were shown integrated and nonintegrated motion displays in which a diamond shape appeared to move behind four circular apertures. Researchers measured the motion aftereffect outside of the apertures immediately after the motion display ended and found that adaptation to emergent filling-in generated a motion aftereffect that was not due to the local movement of the apertures. In addition, the researchers found that the filling-in motion aftereffect was modulated by selective attention. This suggests that later visual areas provide feedback to earlier visual areas during emergent filling-in.