Evidence for holistic representations of ignored images and analytic representations of attended images

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Davidoff, Jules B. ; Hummel, J. ; Thoma, V. (2004)

According to the hybrid theory of object recognition (Hummel, 2001), ignored object images are represented holistically, and attended images both holistically and analytically. This account correctly predicts patterns of visual priming as a function of translation, scale (Stankiewicz & Hummel, 2000) and left-right reflection (Stankiewicz, Hummel & Cooper, 1998). The model also predicts that priming for attended images will generalize over configural distortions (split images) whereas priming for ignored images will not. Three experiments tested and confirmed this prediction. Split images visually primed their intact and split counterparts when they were attended but not when they were ignored, whereas intact images primed themselves whether they were attended or not. The data contribute to the growing body of evidence that one function of visual attention is to permit the generation of explicitly relational representations of object shape.
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