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Tashina Graves, Howard Egeth; The transfer of abstract attentional sets across different types of visual search. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):367. doi: 10.1167/12.9.367.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
If people have been performing a visual search that forces them to use either a diffuse or focused attentional set, will they keep using a similar attentional set even when they switch to a different search task? The transfer of attentional sets, or search strategies, has already been demonstrated within several task paradigms. Participants who were forced to use either a singleton detection strategy or a feature search strategy on training trials continued to use the same strategy on later test trials where either strategy was a viable option. Long-lasting transfer effects can occur even when the training trials and test trials use a different color set. The current study examines whether the abstract transfer of attentional sets can happen when entirely different tasks are used for training and test. Participants were trained with either the singleton or feature version of the additional singleton task, which involved a spatial shape search, and tested with RSVP contingent capture option trials, which involved a temporal color search. Different color sets were used for the training and test tasks. We found no evidence of attentional set transfer. Instead, both sets of participants opted to use a feature search strategy. A control experiment confirmed that feature search was the default strategy for RSVP option trials, which was surprising given previous findings of singleton detection mode use for RSVP option trials. The lack of transfer, coupled with previous findings of no correlation between the amount of capture by a distracting stimulus on the additional singleton task and on the RSVP contingent capture task, might indicate a fundamental difference in the attentional mechanisms recruited for each task.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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