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Nancy Carlisle; Strategic Templates for Rejection. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):204. doi: 10.1167/17.10.204.
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Can attention actively suppress a feature? Arita, Carlisle, & Woodman (JEP:HPP, 2012) reported cuing a distractor color sped search (negative cue) compared with neutral cue trials, although the benefit was smaller than typical positive cues. Search arrays contained two colors of objects, where all objects of one color appeared in one hemifield. The negative cue benefit was reduced when search was made easier by reducing the set size. This suggests that attentional templates can be used for active suppression, but only if it is strategically beneficial to use the cue. A failure to replicate calls this conclusion into question. Beck & Hollingworth found no negative cue benefit with mixed colors and suggested the previous results could be explained by a spatial template generated after the search array was presented (JEP:HPP, 2015). Crucially, their manipulation may have reduced the perceived benefit of the negative cue. I created a design with ⅓ of trials in a block with mixed color arrangement (as in Beck & Hollingworth, 2015), and ⅔ of trials with separated arrangement (as in Arita and colleagues, 2012). Importantly, participants did not know which array arrangement would appear, and therefore needed to adopt a strategy based on the utility of the cue for the entire block. I found a main effect of cue type on reaction time (p < .0001), with both positive and negative cues leading to significant benefits (p's < .0001). Importantly, I found no interaction between cue type and array arrangement (p = .97) indicating no difference in the cuing effects based on display arrangement, in contrast to the spatial template hypothesis. My data suggest we can actively suppress a particular feature, but that we may only utilize this control when it is strategically advantageous. This evidence suggests active suppression should be incorporated into theories of attentional control.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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