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Emma Yoxon, Meera Sunny, Timothy Welsh; "There's something about offsets": Offset events cannot be associated with reaching movements. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):459. doi: 10.1167/16.12.459.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
The present experiment integrates two lines of research regarding action and the salience of stimuli for action. The first line provides evidence that attentional capture can be modulated by how the stimuli relate to the action being performed. Onset events (appearance of a new object) are salient for reaching movements. Conversely, offset events (disappearance of an object) are not salient for reaching movements because they do not afford a location-specific response. In support of the hypothesized salience of each event, onset distractors have been shown to capture attention and cause interference during aiming movements whereas offset distractors do not. The second line of research involves ideomotor theory. According to ideomotor theory, the neural codes for actions are closely bound to the neural codes for the perceptual effects of those actions. Associations between actions and effects are built through experience with a given action-effect pairing. Importantly, learned action-effect pairings have been shown to modulate attentional capture (Kumar, Manjaly & Sunny, 2015). The current experiment examined whether an association could be developed between reaching movements and offset events. Participants performed a free-choice reaching task before and after an acquisition phase. In the pre/post-test phases, participants reached towards one of three target placeholders after the disappearance of a target in one of those placeholders. In the acquisition phase, participants reached towards targets that would disappear when contacted. It was hypothesized that this action-effect experience would lead to a coupling between reaching movements and offset events, thereby increasing the salience (and the propensity for attentional capture) of the offset event. It was found, however, that the frequency with which participants moved towards a placeholder that held the offset event did not significantly differ from the pre-test to the post-test. Therefore, the data suggest that participants were unable to associate reaching movements with offset events.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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