Temporal Variations in Visual Completion: A Reflection of Spatial Limits?
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The completion of partly occluded objects appears instantaneous and effortless, but empirically takes measurable time. The current study investigates how amount of occlusion affects the time course and mechanisms of visual completion. Experiment 1 used a primed-matching paradigm to determine completion times for objects occluded by various amounts. Experiments 2 and 3 used a dot-localization paradigm to probe completed contour representations for a qualitative shift above some spatial limit. The results demonstrate that time to completion rises with amount of occlusion. Nonetheless, the visual system can complete highly occluded objects, even when the occlusion renders visible contours nonrelatable. Furthermore, prolonged completion times for highly occluded objects do not result from a breakdown of low-level interpolation processes: The same contour completion mechanism operates on objects occluded by different spatial extents.
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