The Dynamics Of Perceptual Organization In The Human Visual System; Competition In Time
AuthorSanguinetti, Joseph LaCoste
AdvisorPeterson, Mary A.
Allen, John J. B.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe visual system receives a series of fluctuating light patterns on the retina, yet visual perception is strikingly different from this unorganized and ambiguous input. Thus visual processes must organize the input into coherent units, or objects, and segregate them from others. These processes, collectively called perceptual organization, are fundamental to our ability to perceive and interact with objects in the world. Nevertheless, they are not yet understood, perhaps because serial, hierarchical assumptions that were long held impeded progress. In a series of experiments, this dissertation investigated the mechanisms that contribute to perceptual organization and ultimately to our ability to perceive objects. A new hypothesis is that during the course of object assignment potential objects on either side of a border are accessed on a fast pass of processing and engage in inhibitory competition for object status; the winner is perceived as the object and the loser is suppressed, leading that region to be seen as part of the shapeless background. Previous research suggested that at least shape level representations are accessed on the fast pass of processing before object assignment. In the first series of experiments (Chapter 1), we found that meaning (semantics) is also accessed on the fast pass of processing for regions that are ultimately perceived as shapeless grounds. This finding contradicts traditional feed-forward theories of perception that assumed that meaning is accessed only for figures after object assignment. The experiments in Chapter 2 examine activity in the alpha band of the EEG, which has been used as an index of inhibition. More alpha activity was observed when participants viewed stimuli designed such that there was more competition for figural status from the region ultimately perceived as the ground. The results support the proposal that inhibitory competition occurs during the course of object perception, and these results are the first online measure of competition during figure assignment. The final series of experiments (Chapter 3) investigated how quickly saccadic behaviors that required perceptual organization can be initiated. The experiments show that participants can initiate saccades that are based on perceptual organization approximately 200 ms after stimulus onset, much faster than was assumed on feed-forward models of perception. Collectively, these experiment support models of object perception that involve the mutual interaction and competition of objects properties via feedforward and iterative feedback processing, and the eventual suppression of the losing ground regions before object assignment.
Degree ProgramGraduate College