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Yaffa Yeshurun, Ruth Kimchi, Guy Sha'shoua, Tomer Carmel; Perceptual objects capture attention. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):1122. doi: 10.1167/8.6.1122.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previously we have demonstrated that the mere organization of some elements in the visual field into an object, with no abrupt onset or any other unique transient, attracts attention automatically (Kimchi, Yeshurun, & Cohen-Savransky, 2007). This study tested whether similar results will emerge when the target is not a part of the object and with simplified task demands. A matrix of 16 L elements in various orientations preceded the presentation of a Vernier target. The target was either added to the matrix or appeared after its offset. On half of the trials, 4 elements formed a square-like object in one of four possible locations. On a 1/4 of these trials the target appeared at the center of the object, and on the other 3/4 the target appeared in one of the other 3 possible locations. On half of the trials the elements did not form an object, and the target appeared in one of the 4 possible locations. Thus, the object was not predictive of the target location or the direction of the target's horizontal offset. Moreover, no featural uniqueness or abrupt onset was associated with the object. Performance was better when the target appeared in the center of the object than in a different location than the object, even when the target appeared after the matrix offset. These findings support the hypothesis that a perceptual object captures attention, and demonstrate that this automatic deployment of attention does not depend on the target being a part of the object or on the involvement of high memory load. Moreover, because the target was not a part of the object, and because attentional effects were found even when the target appeared after the matrix offset, these findings suggest that the automatic deployment of attention to the object involves a spatial component.
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