Learned value and predictiveness affect gaze but not figure assignment

Sandersan Onie, Mary A. Peterson, Mike Le Pelley, Steven B. Most

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many factors affect figure–ground segregation, but the contributions of attention and reward history to this process is uncertain. We conducted two experiments to investigate whether reward learning influences figure assignment and whether this relationship was mediated by attention. Participants learned to associate certain shapes with a reward contingency: During a learning phase, they chose between two shapes on each trial, with subsets of shapes associated with high-probability win, low-probability win, high-probability loss, and low-probability loss. In a test phase, participants were given a figure–ground task, in which they indicated which of two regions that shared a contour they perceived as the figure (high-probability win and low-probability win shapes were pitted against each other, as were high-probability loss and low-probability loss shapes). The results revealed that participants had learned the reward contingencies and that, following learning, attention was reliably drawn to the optimal stimulus. Despite this, neither reward history nor the resulting attentional allocation influenced figure–ground organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-172
Number of pages17
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Attention
  • Eye gaze
  • Figure-ground perception
  • Learned value
  • Predictiveness
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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