Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Primes and Flankers: Source Confusions and Discounting

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Primes and Flankers: Source Confusions and Discounting

Article excerpt

Published online: 14 April 2012

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract Visual identification of briefly presented target words is affected by the presence of nondiagnostic prime words that immediately precede the target, flanker words simultaneously presented adjacent to the target, and visual masks that immediately follow the target in the same location. Priming is duration dependent: In a forced choice target identification task, brief primes produce a strong preference to choose the primed alternative, whereas long primes have the opposite effect. The ROUSE model (Huber, Shiffrin, Lyle, & Ruys, Psychological Review 108:149-182, 2001) predicts this interaction by positing that prime features are confused with target features and that evidence regarding the prime features is discounted less for short primes and more for long primes, when both are compared with the optimal level. In the present study, we augmented the typical short-term priming experiment by adding flankers that appeared simultaneously with the target and remained for a short or long duration. In the experiment, we replicated previous priming effects and produced novel effects of flanker duration. ROUSE accounted for both the priming and flanker findings with the previously posited processes, but with different quantitative parameters for flankers: Relative to optimal levels of discounting, all flanker features were underdiscounted, but longer flankers were discounted more than short flankers.

Keywords Word perception . Priming . Math modeling

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

In the present article, we attempted to bridge two common paradigms used to study visual perception-priming and flanking-and to tie both to a third, masking. These threads are drawn together with a theory that assumes feature migration and confusions among stimuli close together in time and space, and a discounting mechanism that attempts to offset these confusions by assigning differential levels of evidence to features that are in primes and flankers. The theory is an extension of the ROUSE (Responding Optimally with Unknown Sources of Evidence) theory (Huber, Shiffrin, Lyle & Ruys, 2001) previously used very successfully to predict visual priming.

Short-term priming refers to a well-known finding that a prime stimulus presented just prior to a target stimulus influences its perception, even when it is nondiagnostic for the target detection task. A particularly important finding is the fact that the direction of priming is changed by the duration of a prime and the attention given to it. Short and less attended primes (even "subliminal" ones) produce positive priming-a tendency to think the target matches or is similar to the prime. Long and more attended primes produce negative priming-a tendency to think the target is not the prime and not similar to it. Such effects are seen in both accuracy of detection (say, in naming, yes-no matching, or forced choice, e.g., Hochhaus & Johnston, 1996) and response time (RT). In a long series of studies, Huber, Shiffrin, and colleagues surveyed much of the research on priming, carried out much additional research of their own, and produced a very effective model, termed ROUSE, that explains the results (Denton & Shiffrin, in press; Huber, 2008; Huber, Shiffrin, Lyle & Quach 2002a; Huber et al., 2001; Huber et al., 2002b; Weidemann, Huber & Shiffrin, 2005, 2008). To keep the present article short, we refer the readers to those articles for much of the background and details concerning priming and its modeling.

The essence of the ROUSE model is rooted in two factors. First, features of primes are posited to migrate into the percept of the subsequent target stimulus, without (full) knowledge of the source of such features. Thus, the system/ observer cannot be sure that the target percept includes features only of the target itself; some of those features could have come from the prime. …

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