August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
A gradient for the target template in feature-based attention
Author Affiliations
  • Hannah Wyland
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa
  • Shaun Vecera
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1030. doi:
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      Hannah Wyland, Shaun Vecera; A gradient for the target template in feature-based attention. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1030.

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

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Visual attention can be guided to relevant items by storing a target template in visual short-term memory (Desimone & Duncan, 1995; Wolfe, 1994). There is a great deal of evidence for the flexibility of target templates, but little work has directly investigated their precision. Contingent capture paradigms have previously demonstrated that when monitoring a central stream for a specific color, template matching peripheral distractors impair performance to a greater degree than nontarget colored distractors (Folk, Leber, & Egeth, 2002). Although these experiments suggest that attention is biased toward template matching items, the limited range of distractor colors sampled does not allow for strong conclusions regarding the template's precision. In the present series of experiments we used the logic of capture paradigms to investigate the specificity of target templates for color. In these experiments, participants monitor a grey RSVP stream at fixation for a trial-unique target colored letter and report its identity. Before the target appeared, grey distractor items (#) were simultaneously presented above, below, and on either side of the letter stream. On many trials, one of these distractors was presented in a color varying in its similarity to the target. After each trial, participants reported the target color they had just searched for to ensure that the color was stored in visual short-term memory. Our results demonstrate that participants are most captured by distractors that match their template and that there is a measurable reduction in capture as distractors become more dissimilar from the target. Our results suggest that target templates for color are relatively precise and able to minimize capture to nontarget colored distractors.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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