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Author

Emily Ruzich

Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Bukach

Abstract

In an effort to determine whether multiple types of visual expertise processing can be elicited, we attempted to manipulate how an individual perceives and processes a stimulus set. Previous literature on visual expertise shows both right and left lateralization of cortical activation (Gauthier et al., 2000; Rossion et al., 2002), but does not specify how stimuli can be differentiated and how this might lead to differential processing. We believe that the discrepancy in the literature may be due to past studies’ failure to account for different processing techniques that participants employ while becoming experts. To test our hypothesis that stimuli sets with distinctive types of salient features will lead to unique visual processing strategies, which in turn lead to divergent patterns of lateralization of FFA activity in the brain, a paradigm in which one group is trained to discriminate greebles based on one feature, while the other is trained to use three. Participants are tested before and after training with behavioral tests to determine to what extent holistic processing is used, and with event‐related potential (ERP) technology to determine on what side of the brain activity is most pronounced. Preliminary findings indicate that there is an enhanced N170 component in the right hemisphere for the multiple feature group and an enhanced N170 in the left hemisphere for the single feature, showing that disparate expertise processes can arise from different processing techniques, which in turn are brought on, by specific types of stimuli sets.

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