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Zhi Li, Fan Yang, Yijie Chen; Short display time reduces distractor interference when distractor is a feature of the target. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):52. doi: 10.1167/17.10.52.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Load theory (Lavie and Tsal, 1994) compromises the long debate of early vs late selection hypothesis of selective attention by assuming that the locus of attentional filter is flexible depending on the perceptual load of the task. The filter operates at an early stage when perceptual load is high and operates at a late stage when perceptual load is low. Evidence supporting load theory often involves a flanker task, in which distractor and target are spatially separated. When distractor and target occupy the same space, however, object-based attention may take over and the distractor may be processed to a late stage regardless of the perceptual load (Chen, 2003; Cosman and Vecera, 2012). The present study examined the load effect when distractor is a feature of the target. Participants judged whether the color of a central item also appeared on the item in a peripheral array. The items were either all colorful numbers or all color squares. The display time of the stimuli was either very short (barely enough for the task) or self terminated (on screen until response). In the colorful number condition, color was task-relevant information and number was task-irrelevant information. By using the results from the color square condition as baseline, the time spent on processing the task-irrelevant feature (i.e. number) in the colorful number condition was calculated. It turned out when the display time was short, less time was spent on processing the task-irrelevant feature than that when the display time was self terminated. These findings showed that the time available for processing the stimuli affected whether the task-irrelevant information would be processed. Short display time significantly reduced the distractor interference even when the distractor was a feature of the target. These findings supported and extended the load theory.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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