The differential effects of simultaneous and successive cueing on the detection of bilateral symmetry in dot patterns

Peter Wenderoth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Corballis and Roldan (1975) obtained speeded judgements of whether dot patterns were bilaterally symmetrical about, or translated across, a line. Reaction times (RTs) were ordered V (vertical) > D (diagonal) > H (horizontal) where ">" means faster than. Similar results occurred with blocked axis orientations, suggesting subjects cannot prepare by rotating a mental frame of reference. Blocking trials may have been ineffective because blocking cannot provide incremental benefits over those already provided by axis lines. Four experiments show that the usual axis orientation ordering of V > H > D is markedly attentuated by simultaneous but not successive axis lines. Also, axis cue lines and axis blocking are not equivalent treatments. Instead, unblocked line cues require finite processing time whereas, under blocking, subjects can prepare for the expected orientation. There was no suggestion anywhere of the V > D > H axis ordering that Corballis and Roldan reported. Successive axis line cues may only direct attention to the orientation being cued, but simultaneous line cues may change the stimulus itself, thus providing an additional means of visual processing that facilitates symmetry detection at non-vertical axis orientations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-190
Number of pages26
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000


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