September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Unconscious pop-out: Attentional capture by unseen feature singletons only when top-down attention is available
Author Affiliations
  • Po-Jang Hsieh
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute, MIT, USA
  • Jaron Colas
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute, MIT, USA
  • Nancy Kanwisher
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute, MIT, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 157. doi:10.1167/11.11.157
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      Po-Jang Hsieh, Jaron Colas, Nancy Kanwisher; Unconscious pop-out: Attentional capture by unseen feature singletons only when top-down attention is available. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):157. doi: 10.1167/11.11.157.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

In visual “pop-out”, a unique visual target (e.g. a feature singleton) can be rapidly detected among a set of homogeneous distractors. However, the role of visual awareness in this process remain unclear. Here we show that, even though subjects were not aware of a suppressed pop-out display, their subsequent performance on an orientation discrimination task was significantly better at the pop-out location than at a control location. These results indicate that visual awareness of a feature singleton is not necessary for it to attract attention. Furthermore, our results show that the subliminal pop-out effect disappeared when subjects diverted their attention toward an RSVP task while viewing the same subliminal pop-out display, suggesting that the availability of top-down attention is necessary for the subliminal pop-out effect.

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