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Configural superiority for varying contrast levels

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Observers can search for a target stimulus at a particular speed and accuracy. Adding an identical context to each stimulus can improve performance when the resulting stimuli form clearly discriminable configurations. This search advantage is known as the configural superiority effect (CSE). A recent study showed that embedding these stimuli in noise revealed lower contrast thresholds for part-stimuli compared to configural stimuli (Bratch et al., Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance, 42(9), 1388–1398, 2016). This contrasts with the accuracy advantages traditionally associated with CSEs. In this study, we aimed to replicate the results of Bratch et al. and asked whether the benefit for part-stimuli held across the full psychometric function. Additionally, we tested whether embedding the stimuli in noise was crucial for obtaining their result and whether different contrast definitions affected the results. Furthermore, we used control stimuli that were more directly comparable. Our results showed a detection benefit for the Gestalt context stimuli in all conditions. Together, these results are in line with the literature on CSEs and do not seem to support the recent claim that Gestalts are processed less efficiently than part stimuli. Inspired by this, we sketch how contrast manipulations could be an additional tool to study how Gestalts are processed.
Tijdschrift: Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
ISSN: 1943-3921
Issue: 3
Volume: 82
Pagina's: 1355 - 1367