Object files can be purely episodic.

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Our ability to track an object as the same persisting entity over time and motion may primarily rely on spatiotemporal representations which encode some, but not all, of an object's features. Previous researchers using the 'object reviewing' paradigm have demonstrated that such representations can store featural information of well-learned stimuli such as letters and words at a highly abstract level. However, it is unknown whether these representations can also store purely episodic information (i.e. information obtained from a single, novel encounter) that does not correspond to pre-existing type-representations in long-term memory. Here, in an object-reviewing experiment with novel face images as stimuli, observers still produced reliable object-specific preview benefits in dynamic displays: a preview of a novel face on a specific object speeded the recognition of that particular face at a later point when it appeared again on the same object compared to when it reappeared on a different object (beyond display-wide priming), even when all objects moved to new positions in the intervening delay. This case study demonstrates that the mid-level visual representations which keep track of persisting identity over time--e.g. 'object files', in one popular framework can store not only abstract types from long-term memory, but also specific tokens from online visual experience.





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Mitroff, Stephen R, Brian J Scholl and Nicholaus S Noles (2007). Object files can be purely episodic. Perception, 36(12). pp. 1730–1735. 10.1068/p5804 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6971.

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Stephen Mitroff

Associate Research Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

NOTE: As of 8/1/2015 Dr. Mitroff and his lab will move to The George Washington University in Washington D.C.

Lab focus: My lab has an active interest in visual search—how we find targets amongst distractors. With a dual goal of informing both academic theory and applied "real-world" performance, we explore various influences on search. We work with a variety of expert groups to understand the effects of experience and expertise, and to reveal individual differences in performance. For example, we work with radiologists, orthodontists, and airport X-ray operators. With support from the TSA, we have a lab at Raleigh-Durham airport and are testing all of the TSA Officers there. As well, we explore aspects of the search process itself (e.g., how often targets occur and whether one or more targets can occur in the same search array). The lab is currently examining many aspects of "multiple-target visual search"—where more than one possible target can be present in the same search. Multiple-target searches are common in real-world settings (baggage screening, radiology) and they are especially error prone; we are examining what factors affect accuracy to both further cognitive theories and to improve searchers' performance. Another thread of my research program is focused on the effects of prior experiences and individual differences on the malleability of visual cognition. We explore how certain activities, traits, personalities, and predilections affect visual and attentional abilities. We work with a variety of groups to examine how different individual differences relate to visual and cognitive performance. Related to the above research lines, I also work with Nike to examine visual training from a sports perspective. I am an advisor to Nike's SPARQ Sensory Performance group and have multiple projects focused on the effects of stroboscopic vision on visual and attentional abilities. We work with a large variety of study participants, including elite athletes (Duke Basketball; Carolina Hurricanes), to understand the malleability of performance.

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