Running the figure to the ground: figure-ground segmentation during visual search.
We examined how figure-ground segmentation occurs across multiple regions of a visual array during a visual search task. Stimuli consisted of arrays of black-and-white figure-ground images in which roughly half of each image depicted a meaningful object, whereas the other half constituted a less meaningful shape. The colours of the meaningful regions of the targets and distractors were either the same (congruent) or different (incongruent). We found that incongruent targets took longer to locate than congruent targets (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) and that this segmentation-congruency effect decreased when the number of search items was reduced (Experiment 2). Furthermore, an analysis of eye movements revealed that participants spent more time scrutinising the target before confirming its identity on incongruent trials than on congruent trials (Experiment 3). These findings suggest that the distractor context influences target segmentation and detection during visual search.
Ralph, BCW; Seli, P; Cheng, VOY; Solman, GJF; Smilek, D
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