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Sherman Chu, Jay Edelman; Diminishing attentional capture by attentional set. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):303. doi: 10.1167/6.6.303.
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Yantis and Jonides (1990) showed that attentional capture by a sudden onset is squelched if attention is first focused peripherally. We examined whether other spatial manipulations of attentional set, including cuing the location of a sudden onset, could also ameliorate attentional capture. 5 Ss covertly searched for 1 of 2 possible targets amidst distractors, all radially arranged (4° from center). Static distractors first appeared as figure 8s; line segments were then removed (simultaneous with sudden onset, if any) to reveal a character. 3 expts were performed. 1) Cued target: A 100% valid cue indicated target location (SOAs:200,1000ms). There were a) 2 static distractors, b) 3 static distractors or c) 2 static distractors and 1 sudden onset distractor (SOD). RTs were fast (∼550ms) and a SOD increased RT minimally (~20ms). SOA had little effect on RT. 2) Uncued target: 3 possible targets were arranged in an equilateral triangle with a) no additional element b) an additional irrelevant static distractor or c) an additional irrelevant SOD. RTs were slower (∼720ms). The SOD and the additional static distractor added 20ms to the RT. 3) Cued onset: Ss searched for a target amidst 2 static distractors and one irrelevant SOD. A 100% valid central cue indicated the location of the SOD (SOAs:200,1000ms). Surprisingly, RTs were higher with an SOA of 1000ms (790ms) than with 200ms (720ms). Thus, making a sudden onset irrelevant greatly reduces its ability to capture attention, unless the very act of ignoring it inadvertently directs attention to it.
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