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Mark Mills, Paul Boychuk, Jay Pratt, Alison Chasteen; Attention goes both ways: Shifting attention influences lexical decisions. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):684. doi: 10.1167/17.10.684.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Considerable evidence exists that conceptual cues can influence the speed with which peripheral targets are responded to. For example, presentation of words related to the concept of divinity ("God", "Devil") facilitates responses to targets appearing at spatially compatible locations (e.g., "God" speeds responses to targets presented above fixation; "Devil" speeds responses to targets presented below fixation). The basic (but not thoroughly tested) premise underlying studies of conceptual cueing is that thinking of a spatial metaphor activates an internal spatial representation which, in turn, influences the allocation of attention in the external visual field. An important step forward in understanding conceptual cues is determining whether the underlying processes are bidirectional: do shifts of attention also facilitate the activation of corresponding conceptual information? To examine this issue, a brief peripheral cue was presented above, below, left, or right of fixation. After 100 ms, a string of letters was presented at fixation and participants indicated whether it was a word or non-word. Letter strings were either a conceptual word (e.g., "God") that was either compatible or incompatible with the location of the peripheral cue or were a matched pronounceable non-word (e.g., "jur"). If shifts of attention activate spatially compatible concepts, then shifting attention to a peripheral location should lead to faster word/non-word judgements of spatially compatible concepts, such that upward shifts lead to faster word/non-word judgements of up relative to neutral concepts while downward shifts lead to faster word/non-word judgements of down relative to neutral concepts (and likewise for leftward and rightward shifts). Our results support this prediction, suggesting that behaviors in the external visual field can influence the activation of internal representations.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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