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Real-world size influences visual search efficiency

Real-world size influences visual search efficiency

Real-world size is an intrinsic property of objects: it is accessed automatically when we see an object and predicts a consistent medial-to-lateral organization in ventral temporal cortex (Konkle gray-scale images were equalized across luminance, contrast, and power spectrum (spatial-frequency/orientation). On each trial, a target item was previewed, followed by a search display with 3 or 9 items. All items were presented at the same physical size on the screen, but the distractor items were either from the same or different real-world size category as the target. Participants pressed the space bar when they found the target, after which all items were replaced with Xa s and participants clicked on the targeta s location. In both experiments, participants were significantly more efficient at finding the target item among different real-world size distractors than among similar real-world size distractors, as indicated by faster search slopes for different-size trials (Objects: different-size slope: 51.88 ms/item, same-size slope: 61.03 ms/item, p<.01; Animals: different-size slope: 70.26 ms/item, same-size slope: 76.88 ms/item, p<.05). Because we controlled for differences in a wide range of basic feature and shape dimensions, these results suggest that real-world size is a conceptual distinction that correlates with mid/high-level perceptual features that guide visual search.

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