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Elisabeth Hein, Cathleen M. Moore; Spatial limits of shifting attention as revealed through the attentional walk task. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):448. doi: 10.1167/7.9.448.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The attentional walk task provides a method of revealing spatial limitations of attentional control. In this task, observers are asked to move their attention from one item to another in response to a series of tones within an array of items. At the end of the tone series, observers report some attribute of the item (e.g., the color) on which the attentional walk ended. As the density of the arrays increase, performance decreases. The density at which the attentional walk fails can be taken as a measure of attentional resolution. We explored characteristics of attentional resolution as measured in a series of experiments that used different versions of the walk task. In one experiment, we explored how quickly observers could shift attention within an array of items. In another experiment, we explored how long observers could sustain attention on a single item within an array. In a third experiment, we explored whether observers could limit their attentional walks to a subset of items defined by color. Together the results suggest that performance in the attentional walk task is limited by the ability to control shifts of attention between closely spaced stimuli, rather by the extent of spatial selection.
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