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Nancy Carlisle; Active Attentional Suppression Cannot Be Explained by Recoding to a Positive Template. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):309. doi: 10.1167/18.10.309.
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Traditional attentional theories suggest that attentional control is instantiated by enhancing the processing of known target features. But can we also suppress known distractor features? Arita, Carlisle, & Woodman (JEP:HPP, 2012) reported cuing a distractor color (negative cue) led to faster RTs compared with neutral cue trials. In this design, search arrays contained two colors of objects, where all objects of one color appeared in one hemifield. An alternative explanation for these results is that participants waited until the search array was presented and created a positive template after seeing the array (Becker, Hemsteger, Peltier, VisCog, 2015). Becker and colleagues found that presenting multiple colors in the search array eliminated the benefit of the negative cue. This manipulation may have reduced the participant's perceived benefit of the negative cue, meaning that this failure to replicate may be due to differential strategies adopted by participants. To address this potential strategic difference between the two studies, I created a design with ⅓ of trials in a block with multi-color arrays (as in Becker and colleagues, 2015), and ⅔ of trials with two-color arrays (as in Arita and colleagues, 2012). Importantly, participants did not know which array arrangement would appear, and therefore needed to adopt a strategy based on the utility of the cue for the entire block. I found a main effect of cue type on reaction time, with both positive and negative cues leading to significant benefits. However, there was no interaction between cue type and array color type, in contrast to the shift-to-positive template hypothesis. This suggests we can use top-down control to suppress, but may only utilize controlled suppression when it is strategically advantageous.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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