Perceived object continuity and spontaneous retrieval of features from an inhibited object
Previous research has shown that attention to an object can trigger the retrieval of features of a preceding object. The present study investigates whether such retrieval would occur to a recently inhibited object. In three experiments, participants saw two successively presented stimuli (S1 and S2) that varied in color and orientation. The task was to respond to the color or orientation of S2 in accordance with a task cue at the beginning of each trial. In separate experiments, we manipulated the number of the trials on which the task relevant features of S1 and S2 were matched versus mismatched, and the perceived object continuation between the two stimuli. Evidence for spontaneous feature retrieval was found when S1 and S2 could be seen as different instantiations of the same object but not when they were likely to be perceived as different types of objects. These results suggest that the features of a previously inhibited object can be retrieved spontaneously. However, such retrieval and its effect on a subsequent stimulus depend on the perceived object continuity between the two successive stimuli.