chapter  7
14 Pages

Perceptual Organization Affects Both the Learning and Integration of Object Properties

This project originated when the author was research assistant to Professor Asch at Swarthmore in the late 1950s. At that time Asch had begun to study the role of perceptual organization in memory. He conceived of studying the formation of an association under two conditions; one in which the properties to be associated were aspects of the same visual object, and the other in which these same properties were aspects of two different objects. The paradigm was expressed in

several different forms, one of which is shown in Fig. 7.1a, where the two properties to be associated are form and color. In the unitary condition the form and color make up the colored object, while in the separate condition the top item has a distinctive form but is always the same color, and the bottom item has a distinctive color but always the same shape. In these experiments (Asch, Ceraso, & Heimer, 1960) we found substantially more correct pairing of the two proper­ ties in the unitary condition than in the separate condition. An additional finding was that the difference between unitary and separate conditions was greater with incidental learning than it was with intentional learning, suggesting that the subject’s spontaneous apprehension of the visual scene leads to a representation which is easier to learn in the unitary condition than it is in the separate con­ dition.