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Perceived global organization of visual patterns is based upon the aggregate contribution of constituent components. Patterns constructed from multiple sources cooperate or compete for global organization. An investigation was made here of interactions between two interspersed element sets on global orientation. It was hypothesized that each set would operate as an integrated unit, and contribute independently to global orientation. Participants viewed a 10 x 10 array of Gabor patches, and indicated the predominant orientation of the array. In Experiment 1 all elements were rotated. Rotation up to 23° had little effect, whereas greater rotation produced a progressive shift on global orientation. In Experiment 2 a proportion of elements remained aligned while remaining elements were rotated. Embedding a proportion of aligned elements stabilized global orientation, which was dependent upon the proportion of aligned elements. Specifically, with 20% alignment, global orientation was similar to rotating all elements, whereas 80% alignment strongly biased perception towards aligned elements. The stabilizing effect varied with rotation of the second element set. Across levels of rotation, alignment effects rose to a peak then declined as element sets became orthogonal. In Experiment 3, each element set was rotated independently. Independent rotation of both sets altered global orientation, compressing the psychometric function for the single-element condition. Together, for interspersed element sets with explicit orientations, each set does not contribute independently to global orientation. Instead, element sets interact, where the contribution of one set, presented at a fixed rotation and fixed proportion, varies with the change to the second set.


This work was originally published in Journal of Cognition, available at

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