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Objects and Perceptual Organization

The retinal image is just that, an image.  Think of a digitized pixel map of different intensity and wavelength values at each x-y location on the retina.  Although this is an oversimplification, it does characterize one of the problems that we are interested in understanding in this lab.  How do subsequent processes within the visual system take in this “digitized map-like" representation and make sense of it in terms of where one object (a tree) ends and another (the road in the background behind the tree) begins.  How does it represent these two surfaces as being at different depths from the you, the viewer?  How does it represent these two surfaces as belonging to two different objects (the tree and road), rather than as two different surfaces of a single object (different sides of a house).  Remember, that the only information available, is how the quality of light is different at one x-y location on the retina compared to another.  There are often multiple possible solutions to these problems that the visual system faces.  What are the rules that govern which solution “wins out” and what are the downstream consequences for one solution dominating another (e.g., visual illusions versus something closer to “true” representations of what is out in the world).

You can explore the lab’s Publications page to find papers about specific projects on these topics of perceptual organizaiton and object representation.  Here are a few examples that illustrate these topics:

Attarha, M., Moore, C. M., Scharff, A., & Palmer, J. (2014). Evidence of unlimited-capacity surface completion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance40, 556-565. DOI: 10.1037/a0034594 pdf

Hein, E. & Moore, C. M. (2014). Evidence for scene-based motion correspondence. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics76, 793-804. DOI:10.3758/s13414-013-0616-9 pdf

Hein, E., & Moore, C. M. (2010). Unmasking the standing wave of invisibility: An account in terms of object-meditated representational updating. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics72, 398-408. pdf

Moore, C. M., Mordkoff, J. T, & Enns, J. T. (2007).  The path of least persistence: Evidence of object-mediated visual updating. Vision Research47, 1624-1630. DOI: 10.1016/j/visres.2007.01.030 pdf

Moore, C. M., & Lleras, A. (2005). On the role of object representations in substitution masking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Psychology31, 1171-1180. pdf

Moore, C. M., Yantis, S., & Vaughan, B. (1998).  Object-based visual selection:  Evidence from perceptual completion.  Psychological Science9, 104-110.

Moore, C. M., & Egeth, H. (1997).  Perception without attention:  Evidence of grouping under conditions of inattention.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance23, 339-352. 

Visual Attention 

Our approach to visual attention is to think of it as an aspect of visual processing, rather than a separate process.  We clearly cannot process all of the visual information with which we are constantly faced.  Yet, some visual processes are unaffected by how much information they must handle, where others are severely limited by how much information they can process at a time.  Identifying which processes are which are questions of divided attention, and is an important component of understanding how the system works as a whole and what limitations it has. For those visual processes that are limited, selection is necessary.  How is selection determined?  What are the consequences of selecting some information over another.  These are questions of selective attention.  As an illustration, think about driving a car.  At least some of the processes that you need to drive a car are limited and so you must selectively process the information.  The things that we attend to when driving are those things that are most relevant to safely controlling the car.  A passenger in the same car looking out the same window, might attend to other things.  He might notice that a building that had stood along the route had been demolished and was no longer there, a fact that as the driver you failed to notice. Our lab is interested in questions like what are the mechanisms that allow for selection? why does selection sometimes fail (i.e., distraction)? and what happens to the information that strikes the eye but is not selected? does it not flow through the system at all or can it influence behavior even when it is unnoticed?

You can explore the lab’s Publications page to find papers about specific projects on these topics of visual attention.   Here are a few examples that illustrate these topics:

Jardine, N., & Moore, C. M. (in press). Losing the trees for the forest in dynamic visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Scharff, A., Palmer, J., Moore, C. M. (2013). Divided attention limits perception of 3D object shapes. Journal of Vision13(2):18, 1–24, DOI:10.1167/13.2.18 pdf

Yiğit, S., Palmer, J., & Moore, C. M. (2011). Distinguishing blocking and attenuation in selective attention. Psychological Science22, 771-780. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611407927 pdf

Palmer, J. & Moore, C. M. (2009).  Using a filtering task to measure the spatial extent of attention. Vision Research49, 1045-1064. pdf

Moore, C. M., Hein, E., Grosjean, M., Rinkenaur, G. (2009).  Limited influence of perceptual organization on the precision of attentional localization. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics71, 971-983. pdf

Moore, C. M., Elsinger, C. E., & Lleras, A. (2001).  Spatial attention and the apprehension of spatial relations: The case of depth.  Perception & Psychophysics63, 595-606.

Marrara, M. T., & Moore, C. M. (2000). Role of perceptual organization while attending in depth. Perception & Psychophysics62, 786-799.

Other Themes

Although objects, perceptual organization and attention capture a large portion of the work that we do in the lab, we follow the questions as they emerge during the research.  Different members of the lab have emphasized different aspects of perception and attention as they developed their own programs of research, thereby expanding the specifics of what we do. 

You can explore the wide variety of projects that we do by exploring the links to the individual lab members on the People page.