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Journal Article

Attention-based visual routines: Sprites


Thornton,  IM
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Cavanagh, P., Labianca, A., & Thornton, I. (2001). Attention-based visual routines: Sprites. Cognition, 80(1-2), 47-60. doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(00)00153-0.

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A central role of visual attention is to generate object descriptions that are not available from early vision. Simple examples are counting elements in a display or deciding whether a dot is inside or outside a closed contour (Ullman, Cognition 18 (1984) 97). We are interested in the high-level descriptions of dynamic patterns – the motions that characterize familiar objects undergoing stereotypical action – such as a pencil bouncing on a table top, a butterfly in flight, or a closing door. We examine whether the perception of these action patterns is mediated by attention as a high-level animation or ‘sprite’. We have studied the discrimination of displays made up of simple, rigidly linked sets of points in motion: either pairs of points in orbiting motion or 11 points in biological motion mimicking human walking. We find that discrimination of even the simplest dynamic patterns demands attention.