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Liqiang Huang, Harold Pashler; Target-distractor feature alternation is critical in singleton priming. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):675. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/4.8.675.
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Studies of singleton search have found that response times may be decreased by priming the defining dimensions (Muller, Heller & Ziegler, 1995) or defining features (Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994) of singletons. This phenomenon has been viewed as the direct enhancement or impairment of the relevant dimensions or features. A factor not considered in this work has been whether the set of target features and distractor features overlap. In Experiment 1 we found that, when the target feature of one trial can become the distractor feature of another trial (and vice versa), there was little dimension-priming effect. Experiment 2 was similar to Experiment 1, but target feature could not become a distractor feature (and vice versa); here we found a significant dimension-priming effect. In Experiment 3, we found that when target feature never become distractor feature (and vice versa), there was little feature-priming effect. Experiment 4 was similar to Experiment 3, but here the target feature of one trial could become the distractor feature of another trial (and vice versa), yielding a significant feature-priming effect. These experiments argue against previous singleton-priming accounts that posit direct enhancement or impairment of particular dimensions or features. We propose, as an alternative to such accounts, that both dimension priming and feature priming reflect a cost associated with inconsistent assignment of target and distractor features (Schneider & Shiffrin, 1977).
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