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Cesar Galera, Michael W. Grünau; Size and shape of the attentional spotlight affect efficiency of processing. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):575. doi: 10.1167/3.9.575.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Purpose: In this study, we examined the effect of cueing for the size and for the shape of a spatial area containing relevant items for a visual search task. Methods: For the size study, the cue could be a small (5.5deg) or a large (13.5deg) circle, presented at the center of the monitor screen, followed by the relevant stimuli presented always in the same place, around the fixation point. For the shape study, the cue could be a vertical or a horizontal rectangle (4deg × 12deg) and the stimuli were also presented around the fixation point. Results: Cueing for area size is effective, with valid cues decreasing and invalid cues increasing search times, with respect to non-informative cues. With the valid cue, there is a significant cue size effect, with performance being better when the stimuli are presented inside a small shape than inside a large shape. With the invalid cue, the reaction time increases when the stimuli are presented inside a shape larger than the cued one, but not when the stimuli are presented in a shape smaller than the cued one. The cueing for the shape of the area is also effective, with valid cues decreasing and invalid cues increasing search times, with respect to non-informative cues. In general, the vertical cue produced faster responses than the horizontal one. Conclusions: The effectiveness of cueing is evidence that shape and size of the attentional spotlight can be adjusted by experimental manipulations.
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