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Patryk Laurent, Brian Anderson, Michelle Hall, Steven Yantis; Value-driven Attentional Capture by Rewarded Orientations. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):371. doi: 10.1167/12.9.371.
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It is well-established that visual attention is guided by the physical salience of stimuli and by their congruence with ongoing goals. More recently we have also shown that attention can be captured by stimuli that are neither salient nor goal-related, but that possess a feature (namely, a particular color) that has been previously associated with reward. Participants are slowed in visual search and Eriksen flankers tasks when previously rewarded distractors are present, and this effect increases with the value of the distractor. It is unknown, however, whether value-driven attentional capture can occur for reward-associated features other than color. The aim of the current study was to determine whether another feature, orientation, could be imbued with reward value and thereby cause value-driven attentional capture. Participants underwent a training phase (576 trials on day 1 and 240 trials on day 2) during which they searched for a near-vertically or near-horizontally oriented Gabor patch within arrays of six Gabor patches, and reported the color of the target patch. On correct trials, participants were stochastically rewarded with 5 cents or 1 cent depending on the orientation of the vertical or horizontal patch (high probability of high reward for near-vertical and high probability of low reward for near-horizontal or vice-versa, counterbalanced across participants). In a subsequent unrewarded test phase (480 trials on day 2), participants were instructed to search for the spatial-frequency singleton Gabor patch and to report its color. During half of these trials a near-vertically or near-horizontally oriented Gabor patch (confirmed to be nonsalient in a control experiment) was presented as a distractor among diagonally-oriented patches. Response times on these trials were significantly slowed when a previously rewarded orientation was present. The results show that attention is captured by formerly rewarded orientations and extend the generality of value-driven attentional capture.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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