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James M. Brown, Bruno G. Breitmeyer, Jonathan Hand, Frances Browning; Sex differences in shifting attention within and between objects. Journal of Vision 2002;2(7):13. doi: 10.1167/2.7.13.
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Purpose. The spatial frequency-specific and hemispheric nature of sex differences in spatial frequency-based and location-based inhibition of return (1) suggested differences between men and women in object- and space-based visual processing. We tested the hypothesis visual processing is more object oriented in women relative to men using an attention cuing paradigm (2).
Methods. Stimuli were sets of vertical and horizontal bars. On each trial a cue appeared briefly at the end of a bar. On 10% of the trials no target appeared. Cues were valid on 76% of the trials when a target appeared. On invalid trials the target appeared equally often at the other end of the cued bar (within-object condition) or at the end of a nearby bar (between-object condition). The cue-to-target distance was the same for within- and between-object conditions. Male and female participants responded as quickly as possible to the onset of the target.
Results. Invalid-cue costs were larger for between- than within-object shifts, replicating prior findings. While costs for within-object shifts were similar, costs for between-object shifts were greater for women than men.
Conclusions. A bias towards object oriented processing in women is indicated by their greater difficulty shifting attention away from a previously cued object (between-object condition). Women may take longer to shift attention from one object to another because objects hold their attention relatively more than men.
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