Poster E9, Monday, March 26, 2:30-4:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Object-feature binding is maintained under dynamic shifts of spatial attention
Emma Wu Dowd1, Julie D. Golomb1; 1The Ohio State University
Successful object recognition requires the binding of different visual properties (e.g., color, shape, location) into an integrated object-level representation. Theories of feature integration propose that spatial attention is crucial for binding—but attention is rarely static, instead dynamically shifting and splitting across multiple goals and locations. What happens to object-feature binding when attention must shift or split across multiple objects with multiple features? While maintaining central fixation, participants were briefly presented with four colored and oriented bars and instructed to reproduce both the color and orientation of the item at a spatially pre-cued location. Cueing of the target location was manipulated, either rapidly shifting from one location to another, or split across two locations simultaneously. Critically, the relevant locations were cued before array presentation, providing a strong test of how dynamic covert spatial attention impacts the active binding of multiple features to a single location. By probing color and orientation on the same trial, we tested whether errors in recalling multiple features of the same object were correlated and thus bound together. Probabilistic modeling of feature errors revealed that while splitting attention across multiple objects degraded object integrity, rapid shifts of spatial attention maintained object integrity—even when those shifts were inadvertent (i.e., lapses of attention). Indeed, during lapses of attention, participants reported both of the features bound to the incorrectly-attended location. Together, these results emphasize the importance of a single focus of spatial attention in object-feature binding, even when that focus is dynamically shifting across multiple locations.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial