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Joel Robitaille, Holly Lockhart, Stephen Emrich; Predictive spatial cues reduce competition between items in crowded visual displays: Evidence from ERPs. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1053. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1053.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Findings from a recent EEG study by Anderson et al. (2014) support the idea that crowded visual displays prevent individuation of a target and results in the substitution of features from the distractors during target processing. An alternative explanation for this phenomenon, also known as binding errors, suggests that this misattribution may be the result of active competition between the items during encoding. In order to test this possibility, the introduction of a spatial cue may alleviate the active competition present between target and nearby distractors. In the present study, we replicated part of Anderson et al. (2014), but introduced a predictive spatial cue. Participants were required to report the orientation of a radial target among diametrical distractors presented in the periphery. Performance was compared between trials with far or near flankers as well as with the presence of either a single predictive cue or three non-predictive spatial cues. Preliminary behavioural results show an overall decrease in target accuracy in the trials during which the single spatial cue is presented, supporting the idea that competition can be reduced by a predictive attentional cue. ERP results revealed two effects: First, the N2pc was evident only in the near flanker condition when the cue was absent, suggesting that spatial cues alleviated the competition between targets and flankers. Second, the uncued conditions produced a greater amplitude in the lateralized P1 component relative to the cued conditions, possibly suggesting that this competition may be resolved in early sensory processing. The results suggest a potential mechanism by which attentional biases can reduce competition between targets and distractors during encoding.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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