Visual arts training is linked to flexible attention to local and global levels of visual stimuli

Chamberlain, Rebecca and Wagemans, Johan. 2015. Visual arts training is linked to flexible attention to local and global levels of visual stimuli. Acta Psychologica, 161, pp. 185-197. ISSN 0001-6918 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Observational drawing skill has been shown to be associated with the ability to focus on local visual details. It is unclear whether superior performance in local processing is indicative of the ability to attend to, and flexibly switch between, local and global levels of visual stimuli. It is also unknown whether these attentional enhance- ments remain specific to observational drawing skill or are a product of a wide range of artistic activities. The cur- rent study aimed to address these questions by testing if flexible visual processing predicts artistic group membership and observational drawing skill in a sample of first-year bachelor's degree art students (n = 23) and non-art students (n = 23). A pattern of local and global visual processing enhancements was found in rela- tion to artistic group membership and drawing skill, with local processing ability found to be specifically related to individual differences in drawing skill. Enhanced global processing and more fluent switching between local and global levels of hierarchical stimuli predicted both drawing skill and artistic group membership, suggesting that these are beneficial attentional mechanisms for art-making in a range of domains. These findings support a top-down attentional model of artistic expertise and shed light on the domain specific and domain-general atten- tional enhancements induced by proficiency in the visual arts.

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Visual perception; Local processing; perceptual flexibility; Art; Drawing

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1 July 2015Accepted
12 September 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Mar 2017 17:06

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 14:08

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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