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Exploring the Relationship between Object-Based Attention Effects and Object Realism

53.542, Tuesday, 20-May, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Attention: Objects

Nelson Roque1, Walter Boot1; 1Florida State University

Attention can be allocated to locations in space, but evidence also suggests that the allocation of attention can be shaped by the presence of objects (object-based attention). Recently the prevalence of object-based attention effects has been questioned, supported by evidence from a series of large sample size experiments (Pilz et al., 2012; PLoS). We conducted a study (N = 120) to further explore the factors that determine when and if object-based effects are observed, focusing on the degree to which the concreteness and realism of objects in the display contribute to object-based effects. Rather than abstract bars or unfamiliar wrench-like objects, the objects that were cued were extremely familiar: items of silverware. Fully realistic or cartoon images of silverware were cued and the target could appear either at the cued location, on the same piece of cued silverware, or on a different piece of silverware. We also tested object-based effects using standard abstract bar stimuli. Predictions were driven by the idea that the visual system evolved to process complex, familiar, and real-world objects. Contrary to predictions, the realism and concreteness of objects did not modulate object-based effects. Instead, object orientation appeared to have the largest effect, with object-based effects largely being observed when objects were arranged horizontally on screen compared to vertically. Overall, results support that horizontal attention shifts in general are facilitated and provide little evidence for object-based attention effects.

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