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Brittany S. Cassidy, Summer Sheremata, David C. Somers; Spatially specific training effects in multiple spotlight attention. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):700. doi: 10.1167/7.9.700.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
INTRODUCTION: Visual experience has been shown to improve performance in a range of visual attention tasks (Green & Bavelier,2003). Cross-task transfer of attention-related learning demonstrates that this phenomenon is distinct from perceptual learning, which exhibits strong task specificity. Less is known about whether learning to deploy visuospatial attention exhibits location specific enhancements, which are another hallmark of perceptual learning. We have examined this issue for multiple spotlight attention (McMains & Somers, 2004) using over-trained stimuli (letters) in a multiple Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) paradigm.
METHODS: Over four days, subjects were trained to monitor two spatially separated RSVP streams of letters among twelve streams in a divided attention task. Testing assessed target detection performance at varied eccentricities in the four visual quadrants and assessed performance differences between and within the quadrants. Different target letters were chosen for each session.
RESULTS: Training enhanced performance improved in all quadrants, with subjects requiring shorter durations to correctly detect target letters. Training effects were significantly greater within the trained quadrants than in the untrained quadrants, but the effects fully transferred to different eccentricities within the trained quadrants. Thus, training effects were specific to the quadrant of the visual field, but did not exhibit the fine spatial specificity that is common in perceptual learning tasks.
CONCLUSIONS: These reuslts demonstrate that training with divided visuospatial attention produces both global and quadrant-specific enhancements in performance. Although many questions remain, these results help to further distinguish attentional learning from perceptual learning effects.
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