Grouping does not require attention

Dominique Lamy*, Hannah Segal, Lital Ruderman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Many theories of visual perception stipulate that Gestalt grouping occurs preattentively. Subjects' failure to report perceiving even salient grouping patterns under conditions of inattention challenges this assumption (see, e.g., Mack, Tang, Tuma, Kahn, & Rock, 1992), but Moore and Egeth (1997) showed that although subjects are indeed unable to identify grouping patterns outside the focus of attention, effects of these patterns on visual perception can be observed when they are assessed using implicit, rather than explicit, measures. However, this finding, which is the only one to date demonstrating grouping effects without attention, is open to an alternative account. In the present study, we eliminated this confound and replicated Moore and Egeth's findings, using the Muller-Lyer illusion (Experiments 1 and 2). Moreover, we found converging evidence for these findings with a variant of the flanker task (Experiment 3), when the amount of available attentional resources was varied (Experiments 4 and 5). The results reinforce the idea that, although grouping outside the focus of attention cannot be the object of overt report, grouping processes can occur without attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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