Upside-Down: Perceived Space Affects Object-Based Attention

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Object-based attention influences the subjective metrics of surrounding space. However, does perceived space influence object-based attention, as well? We used an attentive tracking task that required sustained object-based attention while objects moved within a tracking space. We manipulated perceived space through the availability of depth cues and varied the orientation of the tracking space. When rich depth cues were available (appearance of a voluminous tracking space), the upside-down orientation of the tracking space (objects appeared to move high on a ceiling) caused a pronounced impairment of tracking performance compared with an upright orientation of the tracking space (objects appeared to move on a floor plane). In contrast, this was not the case when reduced depth cues were available (appearance of a flat tracking space). With a preregistered second experiment, we showed that those effects were driven by scene-based depth cues and not object-based depth cues. We conclude that perceived space affects object-based attention and that object-based attention and perceived space are closely interlinked.

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