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Kendra Smith, Richard Abrams; Revisiting Attention Capture by Motion Onset. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):450. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.450.
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Several properties of visual stimuli have been shown to capture attention, one of which is the onset of motion (Abrams & Christ, 2003). However, whether motion onset truly captures attention has been debated (e.g., Sunny & von Mühlenen, 2011): It has been argued that motion onset only captured attention in previous studies because properties of the animated motion used in those experiments caused it to be "jerky" (i.e., there were large gaps between successive locations of moving stimuli as they were drawn on the computer monitor). The present study sought to further examine these claims by employing natural motion rather than animated motion. In two experiments, electric motors controlled the motion of salient objects that were placed near alphanumeric stimuli. In Experiment 1, two movable objects were each positioned near two figure-eight placeholders. The objects were either moving or stationary at the beginning of each trial but underwent a motion change after a 3.2s preview. At that time the figure-eight placeholders changed to letters, and participants searched for the target. The target could appear near an object that (a) never moved, (b) was continuously in motion, (c) stopped moving, or (d) started moving. Experiment 2 employed a similar method but a device with four motor-driven objects that produced natural motion was used to compare all four motion types simultaneously. The results of both experiments indicate that motion onset captures attention. Therefore, it is not only "jerkiness" of animated motion that captures attention, as found in previous studies, but instead the onset of natural motion can capture attention.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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