ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 591-600.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00591

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The role of object representation strength in the object-based attention of dynamic object

LIU Yanxiu, XIE Tong, FU Shimin()   

  1. Department of Psychology and Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences, School of Education, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2021-07-04 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: FU Shimin


According to object-based attention (OBA) theory, attention processes object as a unit. When attention is directed to a certain part of an object, the processing of other features of the object will be promoted. Object-based attention has been confirmed by many studies. However, most of the previous studies are based on static objects, and there are few studies on how object-based attention changes for dynamic objects. However, information in the real world is always changing, using dynamic objects for OBA research is more ecologically valid and necessary. For the attentional allocation of dynamic objects, there are two theoretical assumptions: the cued object hypothesis and the dynamic updating hypothesis. The cued object hypothesis proposes that object-based attention follows the original cued object, while the dynamic updating hypothesis assumes that object-based attention is determined by the changed object. The study of attention on dynamic objects also found the instantaneous object effect, which means the object-based attention follows the instantaneous object. We propose that experiments supporting the two theoretical hypotheses have differences in the experimental manipulation, which lead to changes in the relative strength between object representations of the cued object and the instantaneous object, resulting in the two seemingly contradictory points of view. As to whether attention is based on the cued object or the instantaneous object, we proposes that the relative strength between object representations of the cued and instantaneous objects plays a critical role. That is, when the cued object representation is stronger than the instantaneous object representation, the object-based attention follows the original cued object, vice versa. The concept of object representation strength is of great significance in OBA research. It is found that object representation strength can affect OBA, and stronger object representation can capture attention more easily. The factors that affect the object representation strength, such as the object presentation time, the factors that affect the surface consistency of an object (such as the object color, texture, continuous contour, etc.) and the top-down factors, will also indirectly affect OBA through affecting the object representation strength. For these reasons, introduces the concept of object representation strength to the discussion of the theory of attending dynamic objects is necessary, but previous studies did not pay attention to the effects of the object representation strength on dynamic objects. In this paper, we introduced the concept of relative object representation strength and analyze the attention theory based on dynamic objects and its experimental basis. This approach can further improve the attention theory based on dynamic objects, get a unified explanation for previous contradictory results, and explain the cause of the cued and instantaneous object effects from a new perspective. The concept of the relative strength of object representation may be critical for understanding how object-based attention is allocated under the circumstance of processing dynamic objects and resolving the conflict of related theories. At present, the research of attention based on dynamic objects mainly focuses on the determination of cued and instantaneous objects, ignoring the important role of relative object representation strength, and most of the results are compared by the reaction time. Further study could focus on the relative object representation strength to test the influence of the relative object representation strength on dynamic object-based attention and explore its underlying mechanisms. At the same time, since the OBA effect is small descriptively, the method of recording the reaction time may lead to replication issue for some results. More sensitive psychophysical methods can be used in future studies to obtain more stable and repeatable results and help to better clarify the mechanisms of the dynamic object theory.

Key words: object-based attention, cued object hypothesis, dynamic updating hypothesis, instantaneous object effect, object representation strength

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