Distinct mechanisms account for the linear non-separability and conjunction effects in visual shape encoding

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In a series of visual search experiments involving simple 2D shapes, Arguin and Saumier (2000) showed that targets that were made of conjunctions of distractor features or that were a linear combination of distractor features were searched at significantly slower rates than single-feature linearly separable targets. The present study assessed whether these conjunction and linear nonseparability effects can be attributed to distinct mechanisms. Specifically, we studied the impact of target-distractor similarity on the search rates for single-feature, conjunction, and linearly nonseparable targets. The results replicate the conjunction and linear nonseparability effects obtained by Arguin and Saumier. They also show that the conjunction and linear separability effects are differently modulated by variations in target-distractor similarity. This dissociation demonstrates that both effects are based on distinct mechanisms. The possible nature of these mechanisms is discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980343000134

Affiliations: 1: McGill University, Montréal, Canada and Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada 2: Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Canada and Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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