Comparing the effect of temporal delay on the availability of egocentric and allocentric information in visual search

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Abstract

Frames of reference play a central role in perceiving an object’s location and reaching to pick that object up. It is thought that the ventral stream, believed to subserve vision for perception, utilises allocentric coding, while the dorsal stream, argued to be responsible for vision for action, primarily uses an egocentric reference frame. We have previously shown that egocentric representations can survive a delay; however, it is possible that in comparison to allocentric information, egocentric information decays more rapidly. Here we directly compare the effect of delay on the availability of egocentric and allocentric representations. We used spatial priming in visual search and repeated the location of the target relative to either a landmark in the search array (allocentric condition) or the observer’s body (egocentric condition). Three inter-trial intervals created minimum delays between two consecutive trials of 2, 4, or 8 seconds. In both conditions, search times to primed locations were faster than search times to un-primed locations. In the egocentric condition the effects were driven by a reduction in search times when egocentric information was repeated, an effect that was observed at all three delays. In the allocentric condition while search times did not change when the allocentric information was repeated, search times to un-primed target locations became slower. We conclude that egocentric representations are not as transient as previously thought but instead this information is still available, and can influence behaviour, after lengthy periods of delay. We also discuss the possible origins of the differences between allocentric and egocentric priming effects.

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