Viewers preferentially attend to the tops of figures

K. W. Chambers, M. K. McBeath, D. J. Schiano, E. G. Metz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. Is the top of an object more salient than the bottom or do particular features dominate regardless of where they are located? In three experiments we examined which part of an object is most salient when judging its similarity to other objects. Methods. Subjects performed forced choice tasks in which a stimulus shape was compared to alternate shapes. In experiment 1, the alternatives had distortions of either the top or the bottom of the original figure. In experiment 2, the alternatives where formed by combining the same half object with either the top or bottom of the original figure. In experiment 3, we used a card sorting task where cards were formed by making all possible combination of the tops and bottoms of a set of 5 random figures. Results. Overall there was a reliable but small tendency towards picking the alternative with the same top. There was also a strong tendency to group based on certain local features. Conclusions. The findings support that there is a small bias to regard the tops of objects as more salient than the bottoms, but there is also evidence that particular features can be particularly salient, regardless of where they are located in the object. These findings support the idea that observers assume objects are typically oriented with their tops up and that top features are typically most informative. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S178
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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