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Yosun Yoon, Shin Young Jung, Eunhee Bae, Suk Won Han; The effect of cue frequency on bottom-up attention. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):665. doi: 10.1167/17.10.665.
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A salient, but task-irrelevant cue captures attention in an automatic fashion. While this bottom-up attentional capture has been claimed automatic, growing evidence shows that such attentional effect is susceptible to top-down factors, such as task settings or trial contexts. In the present study, we provide further evidence that task setting affects the effect of bottom-up attention. A novel manipulation of the present study is that the frequency of cue presentation varied. Notably, in many previous cuing studies, a salient cue stimulus was presented in nearly all trials. We suspected that this frequent cue presentation would influence participants' task strategy or evoke some demand characteristics, modulating the cuing effect. To test this possibility, we had two groups of participants perform a task of identifying a single letter. The target letter was preceded by a salient, spatial cue, whose location matched (valid) or did not match (invalid) the target location. There were also neutral trials in which all the potential target locations were cued. The probability that the cue and target location match was chance, rendering the cue non-informative of the target location. Importantly, for a group, the cue (valid, neutral, or invalid) was presented in 75% of all the trials (cue-frequent), whereas for the other, only the 25% of the trials included the cue stimulus (cue-infrequent). The result showed that the cuing effect was significantly larger for the cue-infrequent group, as revealed by a significant interaction between cue type and cue frequency, p < .01. In a second experiment, the target was accompanied by distractors. We also found a significant interaction between cue type and cue frequency, p < .01. These challenge the claim that the nature of attention mediated by salient, task-irrelevant cues is strictly automatic.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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