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Semantic Informativeness Mediates the Detection of Changes in Natural Scenes

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Three experiments investigated whether the semantic informativeness of a scene region (object) influences its representation between successive views. In Experiment 1, a scene and a modified version of that scene were presented in alternation, separated by a brief retention interval. A changed object was either semantically consistent with the scene (non-informative) or inconsistent (informative). Change detection latency was shorter in the semantically inconsistent versus consistent condition. In Experiment 2, eye movements were eliminated by presenting a single cycle of the change sequence. Detection accuracy was higher for inconsistent versus consistent objects. This inconsistent object advantage was obtained when the potential strategy of selectively encoding inconsistent objects was no longer advantageous (Experiment 3). These results indicate that the semantic properties of an object influence whether the representation of that object is maintained between views of a scene, and this influence is not caused solely by the differential allocation of eye fixations to the changing region. The potential cognitive mechanisms supporting this effect are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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