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Amit Yashar, Dominique Lamy; The mechanisms underlying priming of pop-out. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):176. doi: 10.1167/9.8.176.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research has demonstrated that what we attend to at a given time affects how our attention is deployed in the few moments that follow. For instance, Maljkovic and Nakayama (1994) showed that when searching for a discrepant target among homogenous distractors, performance is better when the target and distractors features remain the same than when they switch, an effect known as Priming of Popout (PoP). Two contradicting accounts of PoP have been suggested. The “selection account” proposes that feature repetition facilitates the process of selecting the item that was previously attended. The “post-selection account”, proposes that it affects the speed of response decision. In the present study, we demonstrate that PoP is an attentional phenomenon that reflects target activation and distractor inhibition processes set in motion during target selection, with a dissociable part of the effect resulting from response-based factors. By using accuracy measures with briefly presented displays, we show that PoP affects perceptual stages of processing. We accommodate the apparent discrepancy between this finding and previous reports by showing that perceptual effects of PoP occur only when the task requires attentional focusing. In addition, in a RSVP search task we show PoP occurs when temporal rather than spatial selection is required, that is, when only engagement of attention but no spatial orientation of attention is involved. We further demonstrate that common mechanisms underlie PoP in spatial and temporal visual search tasks.
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