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ERIC Number: EJ791027
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 17
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0096-1523
Inhibitory Competition between Shape Properties in Figure-Ground Perception
Peterson, Mary A.; Skow, Emily
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v34 n2 p251-267 Apr 2008
Theories of figure-ground perception entail inhibitory competition between either low-level units (edge or feature units) or high-level shape properties. Extant computational models instantiate the 1st type of theory. The authors investigated a prediction of the 2nd type of theory: that shape properties suggested on the ground side of an edge are suppressed when they lose the figure-ground competition. In Experiment 1, the authors present behavioral evidence of the predicted suppression: Object decisions were slower for line drawings that followed silhouettes suggesting portions of objects from the same rather than a different category on their ground sides. In Experiment 2, the authors reversed the silhouette's figure-ground relationships and obtained speeding rather than slowing in the same category condition, thereby demonstrating that the Experiment 1 results reflect suppression of those shape properties that lose the figure-ground competition. These experiments provide the first clear empirical evidence that figure-ground perception entails inhibitory competition between high-level shape properties and demonstrate the need for amendments to existing computational models. Furthermore, these results suggest that figure-ground perception may itself be an instance of biased competition in shape perception. Appended are: (1) Familiar Line Drawings Used in Experiment 1; and (2) Stimuli Used in Experiment 2. (Contains 2 tables and 4 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A