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Spatial ensemble statistics are efficient codes that can be represented with reduced attention

Summary: Spatial ensemble statistics are efficient codes that
can be represented with reduced attention
George A. Alvareza,1
and Aude Olivab
aDepartment of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; and bDepartment of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
Edited by Anne Treisman, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved March 13, 2009 (received for review September 10, 2008)
There is a great deal of structural regularity in the natural envi-
ronment, and such regularities confer an opportunity to form
compressed, efficient representations. Although this concept has
been extensively studied within the domain of low-level sensory
coding, there has been limited focus on efficient coding in the field
of visual attention. Here we show that spatial patterns of orien-
tation information (``spatial ensemble statistics'') can be efficiently
encoded under conditions of reduced attention. In our task, ob-
servers monitored for changes to the spatial pattern of background
elements while they were attentively tracking moving objects in
the foreground. By using stimuli that enable us to dissociate
changes in local structure from changes in the ensemble structure,
we found that observers were more sensitive to changes to the


Source: Alvarez, George A. - Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Oliva, Aude - Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Computer Technologies and Information Sciences