July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
The time course of attention, cueing, and competition
Author Affiliations
  • Anna Wilschut
    VU University Amsterdam
  • Jan Theeuwes
    VU University Amsterdam
  • Christian N.L. Olivers
    VU University Amsterdam
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 1195. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.1195
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      Anna Wilschut, Jan Theeuwes, Christian N.L. Olivers; The time course of attention, cueing, and competition. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1195. https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.1195.

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

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Attention rapidly enhances perception at cued locations, but under some conditions this is followed by a decline in performance. We investigated which factors may underlie this attentional transience. In three studies a cue indicated with 100% validity the location of a masked target, which was presented at various SOAs. The first study demonstrated that the transient component can be observed when the cue and the target are presented invariably at central fixation. However, it was dependent on competition from distractors surrounding the target. This suggests that the transience is not due to spatial shifting but reflects the degree to which the cue protects the target from competition. The second study manipulated the properties of the cue and the target. The results showed that performance is initially determined by sensory interactions between the two stimuli, after which attention starts to dominate the response. Third, we investigated the basis of the competition effect by manipulating different distractor properties. The results, now obtained in a spatial cueing task, confirmed that the transience was due to distractor competition and not on spatial shifting. Performance was overall worse when the distractors were similar to the target, or when a single distractor competed for the response. However, the time course of the performance function was similar across the distractor conditions. These results show that the later decline in the cueing pattern can be caused by different phenomena known from the literature, such as crowding, grouping, or the flanker effect, as long as these pose enough competition for the target. In conclusion, we show how cueing enhances perception over time in the presence or absence of competition. The results are suggested to provide a basis for integrating a number of findings in the visual cognition literature.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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