Lengthy suppression from similar stimuli during rapid serial visual presentation

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Wong, EMY, Roeber, U & Freeman, AW 2010, 'Lengthy suppression from similar stimuli during rapid serial visual presentation', Journal of Vision, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. art. 14.

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The stimulus at any point in the visual field is rarely static during normal viewing: observer and object movement conspire to produce a continually changing series of stimuli. Our aim was to study both the short- and long-term interactions between responses to a series of stimuli presented at a single visual location. We used rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) in which the stimuli were randomly oriented gratings delivered at the rate of 30 per second. Human subjects pressed a key whenever they saw a target orientation, for example horizontal. The results were analyzed by finding two orientations before each key-press. The first preceded the key-press by the reaction time, and the second preceded the first by an interval of variable duration. There were two main findings. First, the subject was more likely to press the key when the target was immediately preceded by a grating of similar orientation. This facilitation presumably results from the summation of sub-threshold inputs. Second, a key-press was reduced in probability when a target orientation was preceded by a similar orientation with an interstimulus interval of 100–400 ms. The time course of this suppression is similar to that seen in attentional blink experiments.

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