Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Thomas Sanocki, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dubé, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Toru Shimizu, Ph.D.

Keywords

Attention, Global/Local features, Hierarchical stimuli, Vision

Abstract

How does the focus of attention influence the encoding of information? Research has shown that size and allocation of the attentional window has an influence on what information is attended to or missed. The size-scale of features also effects processing of visual information. Previous research involving hierarchical stimuli suggests precedence for global features. In the present experiment, I investigated the influence of attentional window size on accuracy of encoding hierarchical stimuli at the global and local level. Here I introduce a new method for manipulating the size of the attentional window and for collecting unconstrained responses. At the start of each trial, observers tracked a dashed-line rectangular box, which either broadened or narrowed in size after onset. This sequence was immediately followed by a brief presentation of two hierarchical letters presented simultaneously on the left and right sides of the screen. The box preceding the hierarchical letters either broadened to a size large enough to include both letters at the global level, or narrowed to a size small enough to include a maximum of two letters at the local level at either side of the screen. Observers reported all letters they were able to identify. Results from two experiments indicate an overall precedence of global letters. However, a narrow attentional window reduced global precedence, as would be expected with more focused attention. The narrow windows also produced more same-side identifications of both global and local letters. The second experiment also showed that reducing the processing time decreased the global advantage.

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