Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Combined Effects of Perceptual Grouping Cues on Object Representation: Evidence from Motion-Induced Blindness

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Combined Effects of Perceptual Grouping Cues on Object Representation: Evidence from Motion-Induced Blindness

Article excerpt

We investigated the combined effects of perceptual grouping cues (proximity and contour closure/proximity and orientation similarity) on object representation, using motion-induced blindness, a phenomenon in which salient visual stimuli perceptually disappear when surrounded by moving patterns. We presented as visual targets two stimuli in which a solid square was embedded in an outlined square. Participants reported whether the targets disappeared independently or simultaneously. The results showed that a relatively high proximity cue (with a 0.2-deg separation between the targets) modulated the perceptions of the independent or simultaneous disappearances of targets, regardless of other grouping cues. The contour closure cue modulated these disappearances in the 0.4- to 0.8-deg separations. Finally, the orientation similarity cue began to modulate these disappearances in the 0.6- to 0.8-deg separations. We suggest that the separation between the visual stimuli modulates the combined effects of perceptual grouping cues on complete object representation.

The visual system groups pieces of visual information into coherent and meaningful objects. Gestalt psychologists investigated this grouping problem in the 1920s. Max Wertheimer (1923), whose works have inspired important past and present vision studies, analyzed the problem based on phenomenological demonstrations and proposed the principles of perceptual grouping (e.g., proximity, similarity, closure, good continuation, and common fate). In recent years, vision scientists have succeeded in investigating perceptual grouping in vision by using more quantitative methods than those used by Gestalt psychologists. For example, Kubovy and colleagues (Kubovy, Holcombe, & Wagemans, 1998; Kubovy & Wagemans, 1995) systematically manipulated the separation between dots and the angle between dot strips in multistable dot lattices and asked observers to judge the grouping orientation of the briefly presented dot lattices. They concluded that the dots in a lattice appeared to be attracted to each other in the form of a decreasing exponential function of the separation between them. Furthermore, Elder and Zucker (1993, 1994, 1998) used a visual search task to reveal the role of the closure cue in object perception. They revealed that two-dimensional shape processing was rapid for stimuli with a closed boundary but slow for open stimuli. Thus, perceptual grouping underwent more quantitative studies. Recent investigations have clarified that the presence or absence of visual awareness of objects greatly depends on the strength of perceptual grouping. These investigations used perceptual disappearance phenomena, such as binocular rivalry (Alais & Blake, 1999; Kovács, Papathomas, Yang, & Fehér, 1996), flash-induced perceptual fading (Moradi & Shimojo, 2004; Vergeer & van Lier, 2007), motion-induced blindness (Bonneh, Cooperman, & Sagi, 2001; Mitroff & Scholl, 2005), and so on. For example, Alais and Blake presented pairs of gratings to one eye and random-dot patches to the other corresponding eye locations in order to produce binocular rivalry. They manipulated the orientations of the gratings and the temporal correlation of contrast modulation of the gratings. They showed that when the two gratings underwent correlated contrast modulation, the gratings appeared together more often than the uncorrelated conditions. They also found that the effects were strongest for collinear gratings. In addition, Vergeer and van Lier found that when the stimuli had the same color or shape, they disappeared simultaneously in flash-induced perceptual fading, in which peripherally presented stimuli perceptually disappear after a flash is presented to the stimuli (Kanai & Kamitani, 2003). These studies indicated that the contents of visual awareness are determined by aspects of perceptual grouping (Vergeer & van Lier, 2007).

Most previous studies, including those cited above, have separately investigated the effects of different perceptual grouping cues. …

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