• VISUAL WORKING MEMORY AND MOTOR PROCESSING CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH EXPERTISE IN VISUAL ART

      Weisberg, Robert W.; Chein, Jason M.; Ellman, Lauren M.; Olson, Ingrid R.; Shipley, Thomas F.; Kozbelt, Aaron (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      The concept of novelty has important implications for theories of cognition, as familiar objects are categorically distinct from novel ones; accessing a stored representation of a known stimulus influences perception in a way that is precluded for a novel stimulus. The experiments that constitute this dissertation shed light on the perception-action cycle, as it is a persistent feature of human life; we see things and we act upon them. When those things are novel, how does cognitive processing change? Specifically, how do people who deliberately practice seeing things act upon them, and are there observable differences between trained and "casual" perceivers' perceptual processing? Some argue that any processing advantages possessed by experts are limited to objects or relations among objects within an expert's particular domain of expertise. However, a central point of contention revolves around what exactly constitutes a domain in the first place. Expertise may boil down to a long-term memory advantage for deliberately-practiced categories of stimuli, or to a heuristic that is only applicable to one trained goal or category of goals, or to a heuristic independent of task that can be applied to any novel situation. The present set of experiments examined visual cognition with the perceptual goal of fine-motor output (i.e., accurate sketching) as a candidate for a domain of expertise that confers advantages in visual perception in general. The extent to which visual processing is altered in expert visual artists was examined; whether they are more efficient only at sketching images of familiar stimuli, or whether their advantage extends to other visual cognition tasks. Familiarity and complexity of stimuli were manipulated, as were the goals of perception, including sketching and recognition. Finally, retention durations were manipulated before responses or sketches were made in order to examine the limits on experts' advantage on tasks that are known to tax the perceptual system. Results suggest that expertise in visual art confers a robust visual cognition advantage that generalizes beyond a narrowly-defined domain of expertise.