People can relatively easily report summary properties for ensembles of objects, suggesting that this information can enrich visual experience and increase the efficiency of perceptual processing. Here, we ask whether the ability to judge diversity within object arrays improves with experience. We surmised that ensemble judgments would be more accurate for commonly experienced objects, and perhaps even more for objects of expertise like faces. We also expected improvements in ensemble processing with practice with a novel category, and perhaps even more with repeated experience with specific exemplars. We compared the effect of experience on diversity judgments for arrays of objects, with participants being tested with either a small number of repeated exemplars or with a large number of exemplars from the same object category. To explore the role of more prolonged experience, we tested participants with completely novel objects (random-blobs), with objects familiar at the category level (cars), and with objects with which observers are experts at subordinate-level recognition (faces). For objects that are novel, participants showed evidence of improved ability to distribute attention. In contrast, for object categories with long-term experience, i.e., faces and cars, performance improved during the experiment but not necessarily due to improved ensemble processing. Practicemore »
Car expertise does not compete with face expertise during ensemble coding
When objects from two categories of expertise (e.g., faces and cars in dual car/face experts) are processed simultaneously, competition occurs across a variety of tasks. Here, we investigate whether competition between face and car processing also occurs during ensemble coding. The relationship between single object recognition and ensemble coding is debated, but if ensemble coding relies on the same ability as object recognition, we expect cars to interfere with ensemble coding of faces as a function of car expertise. We measured the ability to judge the variability in identity of arrays of faces, in the presence of task irrelevant distractors (cars or novel objects). On each trial, participants viewed two sequential arrays containing four faces and four distractors, judging which array was the more diverse in terms of face identity. We measured participants’ car expertise, object recognition ability, and face recognition ability. Using Bayesian statistics, we found evidence against competition as a function of car expertise during ensemble coding of faces. Face recognition ability predicted ensemble judgments for faces, regardless of the category of task-irrelevant distractors. The result suggests that ensemble coding is not susceptible to competition between different domains of similar expertise, unlike single-object recognition.
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- Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics
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- National Science Foundation
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