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Hirokazu Ogawa, Yuji Takeda, Takatsune Kumada; Visual context modulates attentional capture by abrupt onset. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):676. doi: 10.1167/4.8.676.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Purpose: Previous studies demonstrated that visual context implicitly formed by repetition of spatial layouts of search items facilitates visual search (contextual cueing effect). The present study addressed the question whether attentional capture by abrupt onsets affected by visual context. Method: In learning session, participants had to perform inefficient search task. In half of trials, repeated layouts that were repeatedly presented throughout the entire experiment were presented, and in the other half of trials random layouts that were newly generated in each trial were presented. In the following test session, an item abruptly appeared at 100 ms after the onset of a search display. To measure effects of contextual cuing and attentional capture separately, we used a hybrid paradigm of visual search and probe-dot detection. On 50% of trials, participants performed the same search task as in learning session. On the remaining 50% of trials that were accompanied by a brief tone, participant had to detect a small probe dot presented on one of the search items (on-target, on-distractor, or on-onset distractor). The probe dot was presented on two third of the probe trials. Result: In search trials of the test session, reaction times were shorter in repeated layout trials than in random layout trials, showing a typical contextual cueing effect. On probe trials, the responses to probes presented on onset distractors were faster than those on target and on distractor, confirming the previous finding that an irrelevant onset distractor attracts attention automatically. More importantly, RTs were slower to detect on-onset probe presented in trials with repeated layouts, relative to with random layouts. This indicates that contextual cueing modulated attentional capture by abrupt onset. The results have important implications for understanding both attentional capture and attentional guidance by visual context during visual search.
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