September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Eye tracking supports active attentional suppression from negative templates
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nancy B Carlisle
    Department of Psychology, Lehigh University
  • Ziyao Zhang
    Department of Psychology, Lehigh University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 53d. doi:
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      Nancy B Carlisle, Ziyao Zhang; Eye tracking supports active attentional suppression from negative templates. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):53d.

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

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Previous research has shown a reaction time benefit when participants are given a ‘negative template’ indicating the color of distractors in an upcoming array compared to when participants are given an uninformative cue (Arita, Carlisle, & Woodman, 2012). The RT benefits following a negative cue suggested active attentional suppression. However, this research utilized a 12-item display, with two colors separated by hemifield in order to equate the information value of a positive and negative template. This experimental design allows for an alternative explanation for the RT results, where participants may wait until the search array appears, and create a positive template for the item that does not match the negative cue (Becker, Hemsteger, & Peltier, 2015). In this study, we examine this positive recoding proposal using eye tracking across three conditions. First, the separated condition where two colors are present and separated by hemifield, where positive recoding is possible. Second, a separated mixed color condition where half the items in the search array match the cued color and are contained within one visual hemifield, while the other half are a mix of color, where positive recoding is not possible but location-based strategy could be possible. And third, a jumbled mixed color condition where half the items match the cued color, the other are mixed color, and locations are randomized. In this final condition, neither positive recoding nor a location strategy would help participants. Across all three conditions, we find evidence that the eye movements avoid items matching the negatively cued distractor on saccades 2–4 (more fixations on targets for negative cues than neutral cues, all p’s < .01). Importantly, for the separated mixed color and jumbled mixed color condition, this avoidance could not be caused by the positive recoding account. These results support active attentional suppression.


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