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Zachary J. J. Roper, Joshua D. Cosman, J. Toby Mordkoff, Shaun P. Vecera; Perceptual load effect is determined by resource demand and data limitation. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):247. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.11.247.
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Conventionally, perceptual load studies have looked at distractor processing via the flanker compatibility effect (FCE) by manipulating attentional resource demands to examine the locus of selective attention. Brief exposure duration has been integral to previous studies investigating perceptual load but has been generally overlooked as a form of data limitation. Norman and Bobrow (1975) have argued that task performance can be determined by both resource limitations and data limitations. Not recognizing brief exposure duration as a data limitation has led to the supposition that the extent to which distractors are processed is entirely dependent on the relevant resource limitations. To investigate the cause of the perceptual load effect, data limitations were lessened by employing response terminated displays where the target and distractors were present until response (Experiment 1), the target and task-relevant distractors were present until response (Experiment 2), or the task irrelevant distractor was present until response (Experiment 3). The results showed a significant FCE in high load, response terminated displays which suggests distractor processing to the point of meaning. Furthermore and counter-intuitively, the data limitation induced by briefly presenting the target and task relevant distractors contributes more to the abolishment of the FCE than data limitations imposed on flankers themselves. These results support a revised version of perceptual load theory which is based on resource demands as well as accompanying data limitations.
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