Mirror symmetry and aging: The role of stimulus figurality and attention to colour

Jasna Martinovic, Jonas Huber, Antoniya Boyanova, Elena Gheorghiu, Josephine Reuther, Rafael Lemarchand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Symmetry perception studies have generally used two stimulus types: figural and dot patterns. Here, we designed a novel figural stimulus-a wedge pattern-made of centrally aligned pseudorandomly positioned wedges. To study the effect of pattern figurality and colour on symmetry perception, we compared symmetry detection in multicoloured wedge patterns with nonfigural dot patterns in younger and older adults. Symmetry signal was either segregated or nonsegregated by colour, and the symmetry detection task was performed under two conditions: with or without colour-based attention. In the first experiment, we compared performance for colour-symmetric patterns that varied in the number of wedges (24 vs. 36) and number of colours (2 vs. 3) and found that symmetry detection was facilitated by attention to colour when symmetry and noise signals were segregated by colour. In the second experiment, we compared performance for wedge and dot patterns on a sample of younger and older participants. Effects of attention to colour in segregated stimuli were magnified for wedge compared with dot patterns, with older and younger adults showing different effects of attention to colour on performance. Older adults significantly underperformed on uncued wedge patterns compared with dot patterns, but their performance improved greatly through colour cueing, reaching performance levels similar to young participants. Thus, while confirming the age-related decline in symmetry detection, we found that this deficit could be alleviated in figural multicoloured patterns by attending to the colour that carries the symmetry signal.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • symmetry
  • attention
  • colour
  • ageing
  • perceptual organization


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