The edge complex: Implicit memory for figure assignment in shape perception

Mary A. Peterson, James T. Enns

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Viewing a stepped edge is likely to prompt the perceptual assignment of one side of the edge as figure. This study demonstrates that even a single brief glance at a novel edge gives rise to an implicit memory regarding which side was seen as figure; this edge complex enters into the figure assignment process the next time the edge is encountered, both speeding same-different judgments when the figural side is repeated and slowing these judgments when the new figural side is identical to the former ground side (Experiments 1A and 1B). These results were obtained even when the facing direction of the repeated edge was mirror reversed (Experiment 2). This study shows that implicit measures can reveal the effects of past experience on figure assignment, following a single prior exposure to a novel shape, and supports a competitive model of figure assignment in which past experience serves as one of many figurai cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-740
Number of pages14
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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