The relationship between object files and conscious perception.
Object files (OFs) are hypothesized mid-level representations which mediate our conscious perception of persisting objects-e.g. telling us 'which went where'. Despite the appeal of the OF framework, not previous research has directly explored whether OFs do indeed correspond to conscious percepts. Here we present at least one case wherein conscious percepts of 'which went where' in dynamic ambiguous displays diverge from the analogous correspondence computed by the OF system. Observers viewed a 'bouncing/streaming' display in which two identical objects moved such that they could have either bounced off or streamed past each other. We measured two dependent variables: (1) an explicit report of perceived bouncing or streaming; and (2) an implicit 'object-specific preview benefit' (OSPB), wherein a 'preview' of information on a specific object speeds the recognition of that information at a later point when it appears again on the same object (compared to when it reappears on a different object), beyond display-wide priming. When the displays were manipulated such that observers had a strong bias to perceive streaming (on over 95% of the trials), there was nevertheless a strong OSPB in the opposite direction-such that the object files appeared to have 'bounced' even though the percept 'streamed'. Given that OSPBs have been taken as a hallmark of the operation of object files, the five experiments reported here suggest that in at least some specialized (and perhaps ecologically invalid) cases, conscious percepts of 'which went where' in dynamic ambiguous displays can diverge from the mapping computed by the object-file system.
Mitroff, SR; Scholl, BJ; Wynn, K
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