Semantic and Visual Interference in Solving Pictorial Analogies

AbstractNeuropsychological investigations with frontal patients have revealed selective deficits in selecting the relational answer to pictorial analogy problems when the correct option is embedded among foils that exhibit high semantic or visual similarity. In contrast, normal age-matched controls solve the same problems with near-perfect accuracy regardless of whether high-similarity foils are present (in the absence of speed pressure). Using more sensitive measures, the present study sought to determine whether or not normal young adults are subject to such interference. Experiment 1 used eye-tracking while participants answered multiple-choice 4-term pictorial analogies. Total looking time was longer for semantically similar foils relative to an irrelevant foil. Experiment 2 presented the same problems in a true/false format with emphasis on rapid responding and found that reaction time to correctly reject false analogies was greater (and errors rates higher) for those based on semantically or visually similar foils. These findings demonstrate that healthy young adults are sensitive to both semantic and visual similarity when solving pictorial analogy problems. Results are interpreted in relation to neurocomputational models of relational processing. Keywords: Analogy, semantics, perception, interference, eye-tracking, reaction time


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