Perceptual organization at attended and unattended locations.
Han S., Humphreys GW.
This study examined the effects of attention on forming perceptual units by proximity grouping and by uniform connectedness (UC). In Experiment 1 a row of three global letters defined by either proximity or UC was presented at the center of the visual field. Participants were asked to identify the letter in the middle of stimulus arrays while ignoring the flankers. The stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between stimulus arrays and masks varied between 180 and 500 ms. We found that responses to targets defined by proximity grouping were slower than to those defined by UC at median SOAs but there were no differences at short or long SOAs. Incongruent flankers slowed responses to targets and this flanker compatibility effect was larger for UC than for proximity-defined flankers. Experiment 2 examined the effects of spatial precueing on discrimination responses to proximity- and UC-defined targets. The advantage for targets defined by UC over targets defined by proximity grouping was greater at uncued relative to cued locations. The results suggest that the advantage for UC over proximity grouping in forming perceptual units is contingent on the stimuli not being fully attended, and that paying attention to the stimuli differentially benefits proximity grouping.