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Nancy Carlisle, Aleksander Nitka; Controlled Attentional Suppression. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):230. doi: 10.1167/15.12.230.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When participants are given a cue about the color of distractors in an upcoming array, they are faster to find a target then when no distractor cue is given (Arita, Carlisle, & Woodman, 2012). While the benefit of this cue is not as large as the benefit for a cue that indicates the color of the target, it indicates participants can engage in active suppression of a specific color features. However, other evidence suggests that participants may first need to attend to the distractor color in order to suppress it, a ‘search and destroy’ mechanism (Moher & Egeth, 2012). In this study, we used the N2pc ERP component to evaluate the conflicting proposals from these two explanations. We used an array that contained 6 items of one color in the left visual hemifield, and 6 items of another color in the right visual hemifield. Participants were provided with a neutral cue (color will not appear in array), a negative cue (color will be distractor), or a positive cue (color will be target). The active suppression hypothesis predicts the cued distractors will be avoided in the negative cue condition, leading to an N2pc toward target features. The search and destroy hypothesis predicts the cued distractors will first be attended, leading to an N2pc toward the cued distractors. We found no evidence of an N2pc toward the cued distractors, in contrast to the prediction of the search and destroy hypothesis. Both the positive and negative cues led to N2pcs toward the target color. The latency of the N2pc response was much faster for the positive cue condition, leading to an interaction of early vs. late window and cue type. Overall, these results show that in some conditions participants can actively avoid a cued distractor feature, suggesting the possibility of active attentional suppression.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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