Essay: Perceptual Grouping by Color the Study

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Perceptual Grouping by Color

The study in question focused on a number of unique variables. In their experiments, Schulz & Sanocki (2003) used "grouping by chromatic color similarity because of accumulating evidence on the locus of chromatic color processing" (26). From this perspective, the independent and dependent variables can be evaluated. There were a number of independent variables. These included the exposure time of the external visual stimuli, the color schemes of the stimuli, and the level of transparency behind the center grouping of stimuli. The primary dependent variable was the exact time at which perceptual grouping occurred within the participants. Based on the nature of the independent variables, this dependent variable would be influenced to be either preconstancy or postconstancy.

Question 2

To judge the strength of the methodology implemented by Schulz & Sanocki (2003), it is important to understand its primary components. Here, the researchers used a series of five columns containing circles. According to the design, "the critical central column was manipulated by depicting attempted transparency in front of it. As a result, the central circles match the retinal spectrum of the two columns on one side of the array" (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 27). There were different color schemes associated with different rows of the circles resulted in a final set of six different stimuli. Participants were then asked to examine the rows at various time lengths. Essentially, "if participants grouped the central column by similarity of retinal spectrum, then they would group it with the columns on the side. However, after perceptual constancy operations, the perceived color of the central column of circles would match the reflectance spectrum of the opposing side of two," (27). The study tested four different groups of participants, each being exposed to different lengths of time to the stimuli, ranging from 200 ms to 2,000 ms.

Yet, this design had some clear limitations that limited the representation of the general public. First, there were only 93 participants. This is not very large for a clinical trail. Additionally, there was a very limited demographic used -- all were undergraduate students, with no other demographics to represent different types of people who may have more or less education and experience working with clinical testing. The second experiment group used an even smaller number of participants, only 15. This second study even further limited the representation of the population by including a higher majority of females to males. In fact, there were thirteen females in the second study, which clearly offset any balance between the genders that would have helped explain any differences between the sexes. Moreover, the study only used circles of varying colors. No other shapes were included that may have complicated the grouping process. Such flaws then limited the ability of the study to provide larger implications for the visual reception process of the public at large.

Question 3

Transparency proved to be an issue that could have become a confounding variable. The position of the transparency was a confounding variable that might have impacted the ultimate results of the study. The experimental set of stimuli was slightly different from the control stimuli in that "the position of the transparency was behind central column of circles (based on occlusion clues) and therefore did not affect the retinal spectrum" (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 27). The practice stimuli did not contain transparency, and thus transparency was a variable that the researchers believed would have a hidden impact on the processing results.

Question 4

Schulz & Sanocki (2003) examine the nature of perceptual grouping, specifically when in the time process it occurs. In order to explore this further, it is important to define the notion of perceptual constancy, which is essentially used as a benchmark to help measure the time at which grouping occurs in the visual reception process. Schulz & Sanocki (2003) suggest that "perceptual constancy is established when humans perceive the invariant properties of an object, despite the intermittent marked variation in the retinal properties of the objects image" (26). As such, perceptual constancy helps provide a model for other visual processes based on the notion that it occurs after the registration of other retinal properties of any particular image. Perceptual constancy can best help the researchers understand whether or not grouping is an early or late process within visual processing.

Thus, perceptual grouping either occurs before or after perceptual constancy is achieved, making it either a preconstancy or postconstancy process. According to the research, "the preconstancy position is that elements in perceptual layout are grouped early in vision, by properties of their retinal images, the four perceptual constancy have been processed and before selective attention has been deployed" (26). This is essentially when grouping is seen to occur as before perceptual constancy is established within the visual process. This would make grouping an early process within the larger system of recognizing external visual stimuli. Within the cortical regions, there is a use of V1 and V2 areas of the "visual temporal process," which occurs in the first reception of visual stimuli (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 26). On the other hand, postconstancy would prove that grouping occurs after perceptual constancy, and is thus a late process within registering visual stimuli within an individual's perceptual capabilities. As such Schulz & Sanocki (2003) posit that "the postconstancy position is that perceptual grouping can occur, in part, after perceptual constancy has been established" (26). Postconstancy has proven to be the most probable solution, as several studies of similar designs have concluded that perceptual grouping occurs after perceptual constancy is initiated and structured within the visual reception process.

Yet, at the same time other prior research has shown conflicting results, with studies concluding with evidence of both a preconstancy and postconstancy nature of the grouping process. This has often then led to only further questions, rather than real and practical solutions, as studies continue to show different results after slight tweaks in the overall study design. As such, Schulz & Sanocki (2003) assume that both preconstancy and postconstancy are right. Essentially, the research found that "grouping can operate on both a preconstancy representation and a postconstancy representation" (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 26). There is ultimately an "integration of the preconstancy and postconstancy positions with regard to grouping by color" (26). From this, one can assume that perceptual grouping occurs in both positions, based on the nature of the visual stimuli being received by the retina. Different grouping processes occur at different constancy periods. Retinal color similarity tends to be a grouping category that occurs in short exposure periods, thus making it part of the preconstancy model; whereas, surface color tends to take a little longer, and is thus a postconstancy process.

Question 5

Schulz & Sanocki (2003) did eventually come to some very interesting conclusions at the end of the experiment. Here, the research suggests that "perceptual grouping was based on retinal color similarity at short exposure durations and based on surface color similarity at long-duration" (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 26). As such, the research discovered that grouping of different types occurs at different stages of the visual reception process. Thus, 97% of participants made correct grouping assumptions, even when exposed to shorter exposure times (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003). Yet, still, accuracy of grouping abilities did show an increase as the length of exposure times increased as well.

This means that the implications of the findings suggest a relationship between integrated processes working together to generate our visual perception of the world. This is, in many ways, similar to other sensation and perception topics. For example, the notion of organic vision also relies on an integrated set of processes that work together to generate different elements of visual perception. Scotopic and Phototopic vision occur at different stages. Scotopic requires low lit environments, where phototopic vision requires more well-lit environments. Based on the differing environmental conditions, the retina is trained to use different processes; just as in the case of perceptual grouping; where short- and long-term exposure lengths lead to different constancy periods of perceptual grouping. Essentially, the human eye uses a mutli-faceted strategy to internalize external visual stimuli depending not only on environmental conditions, but also the length of visual exposure to the object or objects in question.

Question 6

If one was to design another perceptual grouping study, it would still use the same core principles. "Gestalt principles of grouping and time course models of processing have been central to the study of vision," and as such, would be inappropriate perceptual model to use in any additional study within this field of research (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 26). Moreover, this future study would also share similarities in regards to how "the experimental approach is to give participants grouping tasks with stimuli that are ambiguous as to how they should be grouped" (Schulz & Sanocki, 2003, p 26). This means that similar sets of stimuli would be shown at various exposure times, similar to this current study under analysis.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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