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Motohiro Ito, Jun Kawahara; Automatic incorporation of a top-down cross-dimensional attentional setting into the focus of attention. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):873. doi: 10.1167/15.12.873.
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Contingent attentional capture involves the interference of a task-relevant distractor and impairs performance in a target-detection/identification task. The ability to identify a target embedded in a rapid sequence of non-target letters deteriorates when a peripherally presented distractor sharing a target-defining feature precedes the target. However, recent studies have revealed exceptional cases in which identification improved when observers searched for multiple targets. Specifically, identification of a target (e.g., a green letter) was enhanced when the preceding distractor (a green item) shared one of the target colors (green or orange), but no such enhancement occurred when the color of the distractor differed from that of the target (an orange letter). The present study examined whether such enhancement is specific to multiple-target searches based on one feature dimension (e.g., color) or whether it occurs in multiple-target searches based on multiple feature dimensions (e.g., color and shape). Participants identified a target letter surrounded by a target-defining shape (in any color) or a color frame (in any shape). We observed contingent attentional capture in Experiment 1, as target-identification accuracy was lower when the distractor contained a target-defining feature than when it contained a non-target feature. Accuracy was superior when the current target’s feature (e.g., shape) corresponded to the defining feature of the present distractor (shape) than when the current target’s feature did not match the distractor’s feature (color). Experiment 2 ruled out the possibility that enhancement was due to perceptual priming by demonstrating that mere repetition of the same feature without a specific attentional setting did not improve identification. These results suggest that establishing an attentional setting induces both automatic incorporation of target-relevant features into the focus of attention and its subsequent use in target identification. The present study demonstrated that this principle held even when multiple target feature dimensions were monitored.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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