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Christopher Kent, Christina J. Howard, Iain D. Gilchrist; Distractors slow information accumulation in simple feature search. Journal of Vision 2012;12(1):13. doi: 10.1167/12.1.13.
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M. Carrasco and B. McElree (2001) presented a speed–accuracy trade-off experiment, investigating covert attention in visual search. One of the conclusions from Carrasco and McElree was that adding distractors to a single feature search does not decrease the speed with which information is accumulated about target identity. We present a reanalysis of the relevant data from Carrasco and McElree in which we demonstrate that their conclusion was incomplete and we demonstrate a processing speed advantage for single feature search displays with no distractors compared with displays with distractors. This finding is confirmed in a new speed–accuracy trade-off experiment presented here. Further, we demonstrate that increasing the display duration increases the processing speed of displays with distractors but not for displays without distractors. We discuss these results in relation to theories of visual attention and the debate between graded and fixed architecture accounts for attentional allocation.
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