August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Limits on the contribution of priming to attentional control settings: Evidence from long-term memory control sets.
Author Affiliations
  • Maria Giammarco
    Psychology Department, University of Guelph
  • Jackson Hryciw
    Psychology Department, University of Guelph
  • Blaire Dube
    Psychology Department, University of Guelph
  • Naseem Al-Aidroos
    Psychology Department, University of Guelph
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1031. doi:
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      Maria Giammarco, Jackson Hryciw, Blaire Dube, Naseem Al-Aidroos; Limits on the contribution of priming to attentional control settings: Evidence from long-term memory control sets.. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1031.

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

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An active area in attention capture research is to understand the role of priming in establishing attentional control settings (ACSs). When participants repeatedly select target stimuli across trials of an attention task these items are primed in a bottom-up manner, which may cause attention to be preferentially captured by distracting stimuli that resemble the targets. The present work uses our recent discovery of long-term memory (LTM) ACSs to shed light on the contributions of priming. Studies evaluating priming typically have participants establish ACSs for single features or feature domains, rendering manipulations of priming dependent on changes in the ACSs across trials. This methodology confounds the contributions of priming with the potential costs of switching ACSs. The use of an LTM ACS is valuable because the ACS can consist of multiple targets, allowing participants to maintain a consistent ACS while we manipulate the amount of priming of targets within it. Across two experiments participants memorized a set of 16 (Experiment 1) or 18 (Experiment 2) images of complex, naturalistic visual objects that were then designated as targets in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task. We have previously shown that only studied items produce an attentional blink (i.e., capture attention) when they appear as distractors, suggesting participants adopt studied-item specific ACSs. In the present experiments we varied the amount of priming each target item received: frequent, infrequent, or no priming. Items that were never primed did not capture attention when presented as distractors. However, as long as items were primed, the frequency of priming (i.e., each target appeared on average every 12th trial versus 36th trial) did not affect the magnitude of capture. Together, these data reveal that although priming may support the establishment of ACSs, there are important limits to its role in the maintenance of ACSs.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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