An advantage for active versus passive aperture-viewing in visual object recognition.

Craddock, M., Martinovic, J., & Lawson, R.

In aperture viewing the field-of-view is restricted, such that only a small part of an image is visible, enforcing serial exploration of different regions of an object in order to successfully recognise it. Previous studies have used either active control or passive observation of the viewing aperture, but have not contrasted the two modes. Active viewing has previously been shown to confer an advantage in visual object recognition. We displayed objects through a small moveable aperture and tested whether people's ability to identify the images as familiar or novel objects was influenced by how the window location was controlled. Participants recognised objects faster when they actively controlled the window using their finger on a touch-screen, as opposed to passively observing the moving window. There was no difference between passively viewing again one's own window movement as generated in a previous block of trials versus viewing window movements that had been generated by other participants. These results contrast with those from comparable studies of haptic object recognition, which have found a benefit for passive over active stimulus exploration, but accord with findings of an advantage of active viewing in visual object recognition.

Perception (2011), 40, 1154-1163.