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Dipanjana Das, Barry Giesbrecht; Modulation of inhibition as a function of distractor cue validity. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):667. doi: 10.1167/17.10.667.
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Prior knowledge of the location of an upcoming target results in faster and more accurate identification of the target (Posner, 1980). There is some evidence that prior knowledge of distractor locations can also aid target identification. Munneke, Van der Stigchel and Theeweus (2008) report reduced distractor compatibility on trials when the location of the distractor was cued compared to un-cued. Noonan et al. (2016) reported that cueing the location of an upcoming distractor is effective in inhibiting the distractor only if the cued location was blocked rather than updated on a trial-by trial basis. Here we further test the nature of distractor inhibition by manipulating the validity of cues that signal the most likely location of upcoming distractors. If inhibition is a top-down mechanism, then there should be reduced distractor interference on validly cued compared to invalidly cued or neutral (un-cued) trials. We tested this prediction using a spatially-distributed flanker task in which the location of the distractor was cued validly (80 percent), invalidly (20 percent) or neutrally (10 percent). Invalid cues pointed either to a location in which neither target nor distractor appeared (Invalid-I) or to the location of the upcoming target (Invalid-II). Participants reported the orientation of a target sinusoid grating while ignoring a distractor sinusoid grating, which could be compatible or incompatible to the target. Preliminary analyses (n=15) of accuracy reveal a significant flanker effect in neutral trials (t(14)=2.161, p=.049) compared to no flanker effect in validly cued trials (t(14)=.602, p=.557), suggesting flanker reduction for valid compared to neutral trials. Further, a significant flanker effect on invalid trials in which the target appeared at the distractor-cued location (t(14)=2.271, p=0.039), suggests inhibition of that location. These findings point to an adaptive, top-down mechanism of distractor inhibition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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