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Lihui Wang, Yunyan Duan, Jan Theeuwes, Xiaolin Zhou; Reward breaks through the inhibitory region around attentional focus. Journal of Vision 2014;14(12):2. doi: 10.1167/14.12.2.
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It is well known that directing attention to a location in space enhances the processing efficiency of stimuli presented at that location. Research has also shown that around this area of enhanced processing, there is an inhibitory region within which processing of information is suppressed. In this study, we investigated whether a reward-associated stimulus can break through the inhibitory surround. A distractor that was previously associated with high or low reward was presented near the target with a variable distance between them. For low-reward distractors, only the distractor very close to the target caused interference to target processing; for high-reward distractors, both near and relatively far distractors caused interference, demonstrating that task-irrelevant reward-associated stimuli can capture attention even when presented within the inhibitory surround.
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