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Jeroen Atsma, Arno Koning, Rob van Lier; Multiple object tracking: Anticipatory attention doesn't “bounce”. Journal of Vision 2012;12(13):1. doi: 10.1167/12.13.1.
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We investigated motion extrapolation in object tracking in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we used a multiple-object-tracking task (MOT; three targets, three distractors) combined with a probe detection task to investigate the distribution of attention around a target object. We found anisotropic probe detection rates with increased probe detection at locations where a target is heading. In Experiment 2, we introduced a black line (wall) in the center of the screen and block-wise manipulated the object's motion: either objects bounced realistically against the wall or objects went through the wall. Just before a target coincided with the wall, a probe could appear either along the bounce path or along the straight path. In addition to MOT, we included a single-object-tracking task (SOT; one target, five distractors) to control for attentional load. We found that linear extrapolation is dominant (better probe detection along the straight path than bounce path) regardless of attentional load and the motion condition. Anticipation of bouncing behavior did occur but only when attentional load was low. We conclude that attention is not tightly bound to moving target objects but encompasses the object's current position and the area in front of it. Furthermore, under the present experimental conditions, the visuo-attentional system does not seem to anticipate object bounces in the MOT task.
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