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Owen Adams, Nicholas Gaspelin; Assessing introspective awareness of overt attentional capture. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):334. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.334.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research indicates that observers can learn to inhibit attentional capture by physically salient stimuli. A key question is how individuals learn to do this, especially in real-world scenarios without direct feedback about performance. One possibility is that participants have internal awareness of capture immediately after it occurs. This introspective awareness could then be used to adjust performance strategies in order to avoid subsequent capture. However, it is unclear whether observers actually have the ability to internally monitor attentional capture. In the current study, participants performed an additional singleton paradigm modified for eye tracking. Participants searched for a target shape and attempted to ignore a color singleton distractor. On a subset of trials, participants were immediately asked to report whether the color singleton captured their attention during the preceding search task (“capture” vs. “no capture”). Crucially, first saccades were more frequently directed to singleton locations on “capture” report trials than “no capture” report trials. In fact, oculomotor capture effects were nearly twice as large on trials where participants reported “capture” than trials where they reported “no capture.” These results directly demonstrate that observers can internally detect oculomotor capture, at least under certain circumstances. This may be an important training tool for future research on learned inhibition of salient distractors.
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