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Symmetry 2014, 6(1), 1-22; doi:10.3390/sym6010001

Peripheral Contour Grouping and Saccade Targeting: The Role of Mirror Symmetry

Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Tiensestraat 102-bus 3711, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 September 2013 / Revised: 30 December 2013 / Accepted: 30 December 2013 / Published: 2 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Symmetry)
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Integrating shape contours in the visual periphery is vital to our ability to locate objects and thus make targeted saccadic eye movements to efficiently explore our surroundings. We tested whether global shape symmetry facilitates peripheral contour integration and saccade targeting in three experiments, in which observers responded to a successful peripheral contour detection by making a saccade towards the target shape. The target contours were horizontally (Experiment 1) or vertically (Experiments 2 and 3) mirror symmetric. Observers responded by making a horizontal (Experiments 1 and 2) or vertical (Experiment 3) eye movement. Based on an analysis of the saccadic latency and accuracy, we conclude that the figure-ground cue of global mirror symmetry in the periphery has little effect on contour integration or on the speed and precision with which saccades are targeted towards objects. The role of mirror symmetry may be more apparent under natural viewing conditions with multiple objects competing for attention, where symmetric regions in the visual field can pre-attentively signal the presence of objects, and thus attract eye movements.
Keywords: contours; eye movements; figure-ground organization; perceptual grouping; symmetry contours; eye movements; figure-ground organization; perceptual grouping; symmetry
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Sassi, M.; Demeyer, M.; Wagemans, J. Peripheral Contour Grouping and Saccade Targeting: The Role of Mirror Symmetry. Symmetry 2014, 6, 1-22.

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