Object memories activated by borders serve as priors for figure assignment: figures are more likely to be perceived on the side of a border where a well-known object is sketched. Do object memories also affect the appearance of object borders? Memories represent past experience with objects; memories of well-known objects include many with sharp borders because they are often fixated. We investigated whether object memories affect appearance by testing whether blurry borders appear sharper when they are contours of well-known objects versus matched novel objects. Participants viewed blurry versions of one familiar and one novel stimulus simultaneously for 180 ms; then made comparative (Exp. 1) or equality judgments regarding perceived blur (Exps. 2–4). For equivalent levels of blur, the borders of well-known objects appeared sharper than those of novel objects. These results extend evidence for the influence of past experience to object appearance, consistent with dynamic interactive models of perception.
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