John Palmer

University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, WA, United States

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Publications (14)33.8 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Capacity limitations of perceptual surface completion were assessed using a simultaneous-sequential method. Observers searched among multiple surfaces requiring perceptual completion in front of other objects (modal completion) or behind other objects (amodal completion). In the simultaneous condition, all surfaces were presented at once, whereas in the sequential condition, they appeared in subsets of 2 at a time. For both modal and amodal surface completion, performance was as good in the simultaneous condition as in the sequential condition, indicating that surface completion unfolds independently for multiple surfaces across the visual field (i.e., has unlimited capacity). We confirmed this was due to the formation of surfaces defined by the pacmen inducers, and not simply to the detection of individual features of the pacmen inducers. These results provide evidence that surface-completion processes can be engaged and unfold independently for multiple surfaces across the visual field. In other words, surface completion can occur through unlimited-capacity processes. These results contribute to a developing understanding of capacity limitations in perceptual processing more generally. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance 10/2013; · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Can one perceive multiple object shapes at once? We tested two benchmark models of object shape perception under divided attention: an unlimited-capacity and a fixed-capacity model. Under unlimited-capacity models, shapes are analyzed independently and in parallel. Under fixed-capacity models, shapes are processed at a fixed rate (as in a serial model). To distinguish these models, we compared conditions in which observers were presented with simultaneous or sequential presentations of a fixed number of objects (The extended simultaneous-sequential method: Scharff, Palmer, & Moore, 2011a, 2011b). We used novel physical objects as stimuli, minimizing the role of semantic categorization in the task. Observers searched for a specific object among similar objects. We ensured that non-shape stimulus properties such as color and texture could not be used to complete the task. Unpredictable viewing angles were used to preclude image-matching strategies. The results rejected unlimited-capacity models for object shape perception and were consistent with the predictions of a fixed-capacity model. In contrast, a task that required observers to recognize 2-D shapes with predictable viewing angles yielded an unlimited capacity result. Further experiments ruled out alternative explanations for the capacity limit, leading us to conclude that there is a fixed-capacity limit on the ability to perceive 3-D object shapes.
    Journal of Vision 01/2013; 13(2). · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sensory information must be processed selectively in order to represent the world and guide behavior. How does such selection occur? Here we consider two alternative classes of selection mechanisms: In blocking, unattended stimuli are blocked entirely from access to downstream processes, and in attenuation, unattended stimuli are reduced in strength but if strong enough can still access downstream processes. Existing evidence as to whether blocking or attenuation is a more accurate model of human performance is mixed. Capitalizing on a general distinction between blocking and attenuation-blocking cannot be overcome by strong stimuli, whereas attenuation can-we measured how attention interacted with the strength of stimuli in two spatial selection paradigms, spatial filtering and spatial monitoring. The evidence was consistent with blocking for the filtering paradigm and with attenuation for the monitoring paradigm. This approach provides a general measure of the fate of unattended stimuli.
    Psychological Science 06/2011; 22(6):771-80. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How is visual object perception limited by divided attention? Whereas some theories have proposed that it is not limited at all (unlimited capacity), others have proposed that divided attention introduces restrictive capacity limitations or serial processing (fixed capacity). We addressed this question using a task in which observers searched for instances of particular object categories, such as a moose or squirrel. We applied an extended simultaneous-sequential paradigm to test the fixed-capacity and unlimited-capacity models (Experiment 1). The results were consistent with fixed capacity and rejected unlimited capacity. We ascertained that these results were due to attention, and not to sensory interactions such as crowding, by repeating the experiment using a cuing paradigm with physically identical displays (Experiment 2). The results from both experiments were consistent with theories of object perception that have fixed capacity, and they rejected theories with unlimited capacity. Both serial and parallel models with fixed capacity remain viable alternatives.
    Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 05/2011; 18(4):713-21. · 2.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In perception, divided attention refers to conditions in which multiple stimuli are relevant to an observer. To measure the effect of divided attention in terms of perceptual capacity, we introduce an extension of the simultaneous-sequential paradigm. The extension makes predictions for fixed-capacity models as well as for unlimited-capacity models. We apply this paradigm to two example tasks, contrast discrimination and word categorization, and find dramatically different effects of divided attention. Contrast discrimination has unlimited capacity, consistent with independent, parallel processing. Word categorization has a nearly fixed capacity, consistent with either serial processing or fixed-capacity, parallel processing. We argue that these measures of perceptual capacity rely on relatively few assumptions compared to most alternative measures.
    Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance 03/2011; 37(3):813-33. · 2.40 Impact Factor
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    John Palmer, Cathleen M Moore
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    ABSTRACT: The spatial extent of attention was investigated by measuring sensitivity to stimuli at to-be-ignored locations. Observers detected a stimulus at a cued location (target), while ignoring otherwise identical stimuli at nearby locations (foils). Only an attentional cue distinguished target from foil. Several experiments varied the contrast and separation of targets and foils. Two theories of selection were compared: contrast gain and a version of attention switching called an all-or-none mixture model. Results included large effects of separation, rejection of the contrast gain model, and the measurement of the size and profile of the spatial extent of attention.
    Vision research 05/2008; 49(10):1045-64. · 2.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, discrete trial familiarization/novelty techniques were used to study lightness constancy in 4-month-old infants. The test stimuli were real objects (paper smiley faces) of two different reflectances, dark gray (17% reflectance) and light gray (54% reflectance). In Experiment 1, the test stimuli were viewed against a white (90% reflectance) surround, and in Experiment 2, against a black (4.6% reflectance) surround. In Experiments 1 and 2, the illumination was changed between familiarization and test phases of each trial. In Experiment 3, the reflectance of the surround was changed from white to mid gray (28.5% reflectance) between familiarization and test phases of each trial. With the white surround, the infants preferred the face with the novel reflectance, consistent with the presence of lightness constancy. With the black surround, the infants showed no preference between faces with novel reflectance vs. novel luminance. With the changing surround, the infants showed a small preference for the stimulus with the novel ratio, as opposed to the stimulus with the novel reflectance and the novel luminance. The results are discussed in the context of adult cues for lightness constancy, including white anchor points and local luminance ratios.
    Vision Research 07/2006; 46(13):2139-48. · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: When adults view a disk of light embedded in a higher luminance surround, the perceived lightness of the disk is largely determined by the surround to disk luminance ratio (Wallach's ratio rule). In the present study, both adult and infant subjects were tested with multiple discrete trial procedures in which the surround luminance was decreased between the study and test phases of each trial. Tested with sequential lightness matching, adult subjects showed an approximate ratio rule, with a small but consistent deviation in the direction of a luminance match. Tested with a forced-choice novelty preference technique in combination with a cross-familiarization paradigm, 4-month-old infants showed preference minima that fell closer to the mean adult match than to the ratio rule. This finding suggests that, at least for a relatively simple visual display, 4-month-old infants' looking preferences are governed by an adult-like achromatic contrast system.
    Vision Research 11/2005; 45(22):2854-61. · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We here describe a discrete trial, forced-choice, combined spontaneous preference and novelty preference technique. In this technique, spontaneous preferences and familiarized (postfamiliarization) preferences are measured with the same stimulus pairs under closely parallel conditions. A variety of systematic stimulus variations were used in 16-week-old infants to explore the interrelations among spontaneous preferences, familiarized preferences, and familiarization (novelty) effects. Infants were exposed to pairs of 10° red and blue disks of varying colorimetric purity generated on a video monitor. Pairs of disks were identified for which spontaneous preferences were balanced at about 50–50 or unbalanced at about 75–25, and the magnitudes of familiarized preferences were determined. When spontaneous preferences were balanced at 50–50, novelty effects increased with increasing chromatic separation between the 2 stimuli, showing the independence of these variables. When spontaneous preferences were unbalanced, novelty effects were asymmetrical, being large after familiarization to the spontaneously preferred stimulus, but small or nonexistent after familiarization to the spontaneously nonpreferred stimulus. The potential uses of combined spontaneous preference and novelty preference techniques are discussed.
    Infancy 03/2005; 7(2). · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Both the speed and the accuracy of a perceptual judgment depend on the strength of the sensory stimulation. When stimulus strength is high, accuracy is high and response time is fast; when stimulus strength is low, accuracy is low and response time is slow. Although the psychometric function is well established as a tool for analyzing the relationship between accuracy and stimulus strength, the corresponding chronometric function for the relationship between response time and stimulus strength has not received as much consideration. In this article, we describe a theory of perceptual decision making based on a diffusion model. In it, a decision is based on the additive accumulation of sensory evidence over time to a bound. Combined with simple scaling assumptions, the proportional-rate and power-rate diffusion models predict simple analytic expressions for both the chronometric and psychometric functions. In a series of psychophysical experiments, we show that this theory accounts for response time and accuracy as a function of both stimulus strength and speed-accuracy instructions. In particular, the results demonstrate a close coupling between response time and accuracy. The theory is also shown to subsume the predictions of Piéron's Law, a power function dependence of response time on stimulus strength. The theory's analytic chronometric function allows one to extend theories of accuracy to response time.
    Journal of Vision 02/2005; 5(5):376-404. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: When adults view a test disk embedded in a higher-luminance surround, the perceived lightness of the disk is largely determined by the surround-to-disk (S/D) luminance ratio (Wallach's ratio rule). Performance of 4-month-old infants tested with a forced-choice novelty-preference technique was consistent with predictions based on Wallach's ratio rule. This result suggests that the ability to extract and maintain information about local luminance ratios is present early in infancy. This ability is likely to contribute to the development of lightness constancy.
    Psychological Science 08/2003; 14(4):291-5. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Individual differences in isoluminance values were studied in infants and adults using a motion nulling paradigm. Two luminance-modulated sinusoidal grating components (spatial frequency=0.25 cpd, temporal frequency=5.6 Hz, speed=22.4 deg/s) were superimposed and moved in opposite directions across a color video screen. The contrasts of the two components were traded off to determine motion nulls. Two conditions were used: red/black vs. green/black, and red/black vs. blue/black grating components. An eye movement based response measure was used for infant subjects, and an average of 308 trials per infant were obtained. As observed in earlier studies, the mean motion null values for infants and adults were highly similar in each condition. The standard errors of motion null values for individual subjects were very small. Individual differences among infants were also small, and were clearly measurable only in the red/black vs. blue/black condition. The close similarity of mean null values, combined with the small individual differences among infants, supports the idea that under the right circumstances mean adult isoluminance values can be used as a sufficient approximation to individual infant isoluminance values in studies of infant color vision. These circumstances are discussed and evaluated in detail.
    Vision Research 07/2002; 42(13):1639-49. · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The scotopic to photopic transition was tested in adults and 12-week-old infants using a large field motion nulling technique at a series of luminances between −3.57 and 2.70 log cd m−2. The stimuli were composed of 0.25 cyc deg−1, 5.6 Hz blue/black and yellow/black sinusoidal grating components, superimposed and moving in opposite directions. The contrasts of the two components were traded off to determine motion nulls at each luminance level. An eye movement based response measure was used for infant subjects, whereas self-report was used in adults. In both age groups, the motion null values approached a scotopic asymptote consistent with V′(λ) at the lowest luminance levels, and a photopic asymptote consistent with V10(λ) at the highest luminance levels. The scotopic to photopic transition was gradual and occurred over about 3 log units between about −2 and 1 log cd m−2 in both groups. The null values for infants and adults were highly similar at each luminance level, and the shapes of the transition curves were virtually identical at the two ages. These data suggest that at each different luminance level, the balance between rod-initiated and cone-initiated signals in the extrafoveal luminance channel is similar or identical in 12-week-old infants and adults.
    Vision Research 02/2000; · 2.14 Impact Factor
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    Alec Scharff, John Palmer