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Mengyuan Gong, Sheng Li; Distractor inhibition in visual search can be facilitated by value salience. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):453. doi: 10.1167/15.12.453.
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Visual attention can be biased by value salience and cause maladaptive behaviors. Here we test whether the distractor with value salience can be effectively suppressed by selection of a target that categorically conflicts with it (i.e., steep vs. shallow in orientation). In Experiment 1, we trained observers to associate high and low reward with two steep bars (±30° from the vertical). Before and after the training, we tested the reward effect using a visual search task where steep was defined as the categorical feature of the target or distractor. The search display consisted of eight bars tilted to the same direction (left or right). The target (e.g., 30°) and distractor (e.g., 60°) bars were two singletons presented along the diagonal line, among six 45° tilted bars around the fixation. Observers were asked to look for the steep (and ignore the shallow) bar or look for the shallow (and ignore the steep) bar in separate blocks. The results showed significantly larger improvement in search RT for item associated with high reward than low reward (p< 0.05). Notably, this facilitation was evident when the reward-associated items were either to be detected (search for steep block) or ignored (search for shallow block), indicating the reward influences on target selection and distractor suppression, respectively. In Experiment 2, we confirmed that the suppression effect (p< 0.05) was unaffected by factors such as stimulus type (use Gabor pattern), presentation time, target-distractor distance (1 or 3 intervening items), and training category (associate the shallow with reward). These findings suggest that distractor inhibition in visual search can be facilitated by value salience.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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