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Anne Hillstrom, Jason Wong, Matthew Peterson; Identity change and oculomotor capture. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):1083. doi: 10.1167/7.9.1083.
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Abrupt onsets of new objects draw attention. Although the transients involved play a role, they appear not to be able to account for the degree of attention capture typically seen. Therefore, it has been proposed that the appearance of new conceptual and structural information in an otherwise old display captures attention by involuntarily triggering the reestablishment of an object file (Hillstrom & Yantis, 1994). To test this, a series of recent studies have shown that information change without the normally accompanying perceptual transients disrupts object-based attention (e.g., Hillstrom, Wong & Norris, under review). The information change was accomplished by morphing the object from one identity into another. In the study reported here, we tested whether morphs would produce oculomotor capture like abrupt onsets do. Observers were presented with a ring of objects. At the same time that the target was indicated by means of a color change, either a new object onsetted in the display or one of the objects morphed into a new object. Observers made a judgment about the target that required them to fixate it. Previous studies have shown that onsets produce oculomotor capture — on a substantial proportion of trials, the first saccade is to the onsetting nontarget rather than to the target (Theeuwes, Kramer, Hahn, & Irwin, 1998). In this study, not only was oculomotor capture by morphs much less common than oculomotor capture by onsets, morphs may not have drawn the eyes at all. A control experiment showed that the morph was detectable.
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