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Amit Yashar, Alex L. White, Wanghaoming Fang, Marisa Carrasco; Feature singletons attract spatial attention independently of feature priming. Journal of Vision 2017;17(9):7. doi: 10.1167/17.9.7.
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People perform better in visual search when the target feature repeats across trials (intertrial feature priming [IFP]). Here, we investigated whether repetition of a feature singleton's color modulates stimulus-driven shifts of spatial attention by presenting a probe stimulus immediately after each singleton display. The task alternated every two trials between a probe discrimination task and a singleton search task. We measured both stimulus-driven spatial attention (via the distance between the probe and singleton) and IFP (via repetition of the singleton's color). Color repetition facilitated search performance (IFP effect) when the set size was small. When the probe appeared at the singleton's location, performance was better than at the opposite location (stimulus-driven attention effect). The magnitude of this attention effect increased with the singleton's set size (which increases its saliency) but did not depend on whether the singleton's color repeated across trials, even when the previous singleton had been attended as a search target. Thus, our findings show that repetition of a salient singleton's color affects performance when the singleton is task relevant and voluntarily attended (as in search trials). However, color repetition does not affect performance when the singleton becomes irrelevant to the current task, even though the singleton does capture attention (as in probe trials). Therefore, color repetition per se does not make a singleton more salient for stimulus-driven attention. Rather, we suggest that IFP requires voluntary selection of color singletons in each consecutive trial.
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