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Erica Wager, Mary A. Peterson, Jonathan R. Folstein, Paige E. Scalf; Ground-based inhibition: Suppressive perceptual mechanisms interact with top-down attention to reduce distractor interference. Journal of Vision 2015;15(8):9. doi: 10.1167/15.8.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Successful attentional function requires inhibition of distracting information (e.g., Deutsch & Deutsch, 1963). Similarly, perceptual segregation of the visual world into figure and ground entails ground suppression (e.g., Likova & Tyler, 2008; Peterson & Skow, 2008). Here, we ask whether the suppressive processes of attention and perception—distractor inhibition and ground suppression—interact to more effectively insulate task performance from interfering information. We used a variant of the Eriksen flanker paradigm to assess the efficacy of distractor inhibition. Participants indicated the right/left orientation of a central arrow, which could be flanked by congruent, neutral, or incongruent stimuli. We manipulated the degree to which the ground region of a display was suppressed and measured the influence of this manipulation on the efficacy with which participants could inhibit responses from incongruent flankers. Greater ground suppression reduced the influence on target identification of interfering, incongruent information, but not that of facilitative, congruent information. These data are the first to show that distractor inhibition interacts with ground suppression to improve attentional function.
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