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Zachary J. J. Roper, Shaun P. Vecera; Recent experience in a fixed search mode reduces the influence of explicit search strategies. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):77. doi: 10.1167/13.9.77.
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An observer’s current search mode is driven by top-down set and previous experience. According to behavioral measures, attention defaults to singleton detection mode; however, observers are inclined to explicitly report searching in feature mode. We assessed whether the persistence built by recent experience is reflected in explicit report. We operantly conditioned observers to perform a search task while in singleton detection mode or feature search mode. Observers then completed an option mode test condition where a singleton distractor was equiprobably present or absent. We witnessed greater attentional capture due to the distractor’s presence when observers were trained in singleton detection mode. These results accord with previous findings which show the tendency to persist using the most-recently activated search mode when the option is available. Self-report measures revealed that observers did not have a clear understanding of their own behavior. There were no differences between self-reported "oddball" searchers and feature searchers when trained in singleton detection and feature search mode. A third group of observers were trained in an option mode where either feature search or singleton detection modes could be used. Capture in this group did not significantly differ from the other two groups; however, a further split of the option group between self-reported "oddball" searchers and feature searchers revealed a correspondence between self-report strategies and behavioral outcomes. Observers who reported searching for a feature were captured to the same extent as observers who were trained in feature search mode; whereas observers who reported searching for an "oddball" were captured to the same extent as observers who were trained in singleton detection mode. These results suggest that recent experience directs current behavior by de-emphasizing the implementation of explicit search strategies.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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