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The effects of novelty on low-level visual perception were investigated in two experiments using a two-alternative forced-choice tilt detection task. A target, consisting of a Gabor patch, was preceded by a cue that was either a novel or a familiar fractal image. Participants had to indicate whether the Gabor stimulus was vertically oriented or slightly tilted. In the first experiment tilt angle was manipulated; in the second contrast of the Gabor patch was varied. In the first, we found that sensitivity was enhanced after a novel compared to a familiar cue, and in the second we found sensitivity to be enhanced for novel cues in later experimental blocks when participants became more and more familiarized with the familiar cue. These effects were not caused by a shift in the response criterion. This shows for the first time that novel stimuli affect low-level characteristics of perception. We suggest that novelty can elicit a transient attentional response, thereby enhancing perception.

Citation

Judith Schomaker, Martijn Meeter. Novelty enhances visual perception. PloS one. 2012;7(12):e50599

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PMID: 23227190

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