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Stefan Pollmann, Franziska Geringswald, Ping Wei, Eleonora Porracin; Intact Contextual Cueing for Search in Realistic Scenes with Simulated Central or Peripheral Vision Loss. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(8):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.8.15.
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Search in repeatedly presented visual search displays can benefit from implicit learning of the display items' spatial configuration. This effect has been named contextual cueing. Previously, contextual cueing was found to be reduced in observers with foveal or peripheral vision loss. Whereas this previous work used symbolic (T among L-shape) search displays with arbitrary configurations, here we investigated search in realistic scenes. Search in meaningful realistic scenes may benefit much more from explicit memory of the target location. We hypothesized that this explicit recall of the target location reduces visuospatial working memory demands on search considerably, thereby enabling efficient search guidance by learnt contextual cues in observers with vision loss.
Two experiments with gaze-contingent scotoma simulation (Experiment 1: central scotoma, Experiment 2: peripheral scotoma) were carried out with normal-sighted observers (total n = 39/40). Observers had to find a cup in pseudorealistic indoor scenes and discriminate the direction of the cup's handle.
With both central and peripheral scotoma simulation, contextual cueing was observed in repeatedly presented configurations.
The data show that patients suffering from central or peripheral vision loss may benefit more from memory-guided visual search than would be expected from scotoma simulation and patient studies using abstract symbolic search displays.
In the assessment of visual search in patients with vision loss, semantically meaningless abstract search displays may gain insights into deficient search functions, but more realistic meaningful search scenes are needed to assess whether search deficits can be compensated.
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