The role of visual awareness in processing of global structure: Evidence from the perceptual organization of hierarchical patterns

Shahar Sabary, Dina Devyatko, Ruth Kimchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined whether the perceptual organization of hierarchical structure, and specifically, the integration of local elements into a global shape, requires visual awareness, using a masked priming paradigm, sandwich masking to render the prime invisible, and two types of primes, many-element hierarchical patterns composed of many relatively small elements (Experiment 1) and few-element hierarchical patterns composed of a few relatively large elements (Experiment 2). A significant response priming of the local elements of many-element patterns was observed for invisible primes, whereas a significant response priming of the global shape was found only for the visible primes. For the few-element patterns, only significant response priming of the local elements was observed, as expected, for both visible and invisible primes. Our results suggest that local elements are represented in the absence of visual awareness, regardless of their number and relative size. Visual awareness, however, can be essential for grouping local elements into a global shape. The critical role of awareness in deriving global structure implies that global perception, which characterizes much of our early perception of objects and scenes, is likely to depend on visual awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104442
JournalCognition
Volume205
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (grant number 1473/15 ) from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) to Ruth Kimchi. Facilities for conducting the research were provided by the Institute of Information Processing and Decision Making and by the Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, University of Haifa.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (grant number 1473/15) from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) to Ruth Kimchi. Facilities for conducting the research were provided by the Institute of Information Processing and Decision Making and by the Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, University of Haifa.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Global and local perception
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Perceptual organization
  • Visual awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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