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Keisuke Fukuda, Edward Vogel; Individual difference in “release time” from attentional capture. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):110. doi: 10.1167/9.8.110.
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Visual short-term memory (VSTM) capacity for simple objects is known to be severely limited, yet highly variable across individuals. These individual differences have often been ascribed to variability in storage space. However, it is also possible that it stems from the efficiency of attentional control that restricts access to VSTM. In the present study, we examined the relationship between VSTM capacity and vulnerability to two types of attentional capture: stimulus-driven (Bottom-up) and contingent (Top-down) attentional capture. We found that low and high capacity individuals show equivalent levels of stimulus-driven attentional capture. By contrast, high and low capacity individuals show dramatically different levels of contingent attentional capture. More precisely, even though low and high capacity individuals initially show an equivalent contingent capture effect, low capacity individuals show much slower recovery from capture than high capacity individuals. These results suggest that individual differences in VSTM may stem from variability in how quickly attention is released after being captured by distractors that partially overlap with the current target goals.
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