September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Which features guide visual attention, and how do they do it?
Author Affiliations
  • Stefanie Becker
    The University of Queensland
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 6. doi:10.1167/17.10.6
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      Stefanie Becker; Which features guide visual attention, and how do they do it?. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):6. doi: 10.1167/17.10.6.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Previous studies purport to show that salient irrelevant items can attract attention involuntarily, against the intentions and goals of an observer. However, corresponding evidence originates predominantly from RT and eye movement studies, whereas EEG studies largely failed to support saliency capture. In the present study, we examined effects of salient colour distractors on search for a known colour target when the distractor was similar vs. dissimilar to the target. We used both eye tracking and EEG (in separate experiments), and also investigated participant's awareness of the features of irrelevant distractors. The results showed that capture by irrelevant distractors was strongly top-down modulated, with target-similar distractors attracting attention much more strongly, and being remembered better, than salient distractors. Awareness of the distractor correlated more strongly with initial capture rather than attentional dwelling on the distractor after it was selected. The salient distractor enjoyed no noticeable advantage over non-salient control distractors with regard to implicit measures, but was overall reported with higher accuracy than non-salient distractors. This raises the interesting possibility that salient items may primarily boost visual processes directly, by requiring less attention for accurate perception, not by summoning spatial attention.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017

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