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Carly Leonard, Steve Luck; Feature-driven attentional capture is modulated by the distribution of spatial attention. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):313. doi: 10.1167/15.12.313.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Feature-based attention is often described as being global, although it is unclear if this only occurs in situations that support a broad window of spatial attention or whether this is a more obligatory phenomenon. Leonard et al. (in press, JEP:HPP) have shown that capture by a peripheral distractor that shares a target feature (i.e., contingent capture) is reduced as the distance of the distractor from the locus of spatial attention increases. These results suggest a strong interaction with spatial attention. If feature-based effects are interactive with spatial attention, changes in the distribution of spatial attention should modulate the magnitude of feature-driven capture. The current experiments include manipulations that should theoretically alter the spatial distribution of attention during task performance. The task required the identification of a single target-colored letter in a rapid serial visual presentation stream of other task-irrelevant letters. A manipulation of the frequency of nearby distractors might be expected to alter the distribution of spatial attention, and accordingly we found that capture effects were reduced when there was a higher frequency of proximal distractors. Other experiments further examine this interaction using different manipulations of task difficulty and similar-distractor frequency. Overall, the general pattern of results supports the hypothesis that spatial attention is critical in mitigating contingent attentional capture, supporting an interactive rather than purely global model of feature-based attention.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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