Visual search for a circular region perceived as a figure versus as a hole: Evidence of the importance of part structure.

Marco Bertamini, University of Liverpool

Rebecca Lawson, University of Liverpool

To study contour curvature polarity, we compared strictly convex regions (circular figures) to strictly concave regions (circular holes). We tested for an asymmetry between visual searches for concavities versus for convexities. We found that providing a preview of the background benefited search for concavities (holes) more than search for convexities (figures) and that for convex figures, nearer targets are responded to more quickly. Importantly, however, we failed to find any support for the hypothesis that concave targets are inherently more salient. We conclude that previous findings in the literature, which have been taken to indicate preferential processing of concavities due to their increased salience, are more likely the result of an early computation of part structure based on concavities.

Perception and Psychophysics, (2006), 68, 776-791.