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Daniel P. Blakely, Rebekah S. Landbeck, Walter R. Boot; On the Precision of Attention Sets: The Effects of Spatial Context and Distractor Multiplicity on Contingent Capture. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1345. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.1345.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The contingent spatial blink paradigm, developed by Folk, Leber, and Egeth (2002), demonstrates a deficit in precision when maintaining attention goals (sets). A completely irrelevant target-colored distractor presented with an RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation) stream induces a substantial attention capture effect, even when this distractor is distant from the RSVP stream and the target’s location is central and constant. We first performed an experiment to determine whether attention set precision could be improved by providing spatial context. The target and target-colored distractor either both appeared within one of two boundary boxes or in separate boxes. We hypothesized that when the target and same-color distractor were separated by spatial context, capture would be diminished. Supporting this hypothesis, results show that capture was reduced when the items were separated (M = 71.7% accuracy) compared to when they appeared within the same box (M = 63.4%), but this contextual exclusion was not sufficient enough to fully eliminate capture. Our second experiment examined whether holding an attention set for both color and number, since the target is a single red item, would prevent capture when multiple target-colored distractors were introduced. On critical trials, one target-colored distractor could appear at a random peripheral location, two such distractors could appear at adjacent locations, or these two distractors could appear at opposite locations. We hypothesized that multiple target-colored distractors would produce less capture than a single target-colored distractor since they do not fulfill the characteristic of oneness. Results revealed that adjacently positioned distractors (M = 62.4%) and oppositely positioned top-bottom distractors (M = 60.5%) behaved similarly to a single distractor (M = 64.0%). Surprisingly, opposite left-right (M = 52.8%) distractors actually produced greater capture. Both experiments demonstrate the limitation of attention set precision, but show how spatial and contextual factors can modulate contingent capture.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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