May 2008
Volume 8, Issue 6
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Object-based attention: Attentional certainty vs. attentional shifting
Author Affiliations
  • Leslie Drummond
    Department of Psychology, George Washington University
  • Sarah Shomstein
    Department of Psychology, George Washington University
Journal of Vision May 2008, Vol.8, 553. doi:
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      Leslie Drummond, Sarah Shomstein; Object-based attention: Attentional certainty vs. attentional shifting. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):553. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The finding that visual attention is often object-based (e.g., Egly et al., 1994) is no longer disputed in the literature. However, the mechanism underlying object-based attentional selection remains to be a subject of investigations. Recent studies put forth two different mechanisms that give rise to object-based attentional effects. The first suggests that attentional uncertainty is driving object-based effects (i.e., attentional prioritization account) — when target location is unknown, locations within the cued object receive greater attentional priority. The opposing view suggests that object-based effects are observed whenever attentional shifts are demanded, such that objects guide attentional shifting. We used a modified Egly paradigm to investigate directly, by pitting attentional certainty against attentional shifting, which of the two suggested mechanisms is indeed responsible for object-based effects. In a series of experiments we manipulated (1) certainty of target position, (2) shifting of attention (i.e., target appearing in a different location than a cue thus requiring an attentional shift), and (3) the cue to target SOA (100, 300, and 500ms). We observed a complete reduction of the object-based effect, across all SOAs, when attentional shifting was required but attentional certainty was high (i.e., 100% certainty). These results suggest that attentional uncertainty, and not a mere shift of attention, gives rise to object-based guidance of attentional selection. In addition, these results land further support for attentional prioritization account of object-based attention, and provide further constraints on the mechanisms of object-based selection.

Drummond, L. Shomstein, S. (2008). Object-based attention: Attentional certainty vs. attentional shifting [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 8(6):553, 553a,, doi:10.1167/8.6.553. [CrossRef]

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