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Sebastian Pichlmeier, Till Pfeiffer; Attentional capture in multiple object tracking. Journal of Vision 2021;21(8):16. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.8.16.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Attentional processes are generally assumed to be involved in multiple object tracking (MOT). The attentional capture paradigm is regularly used to study conditions of attentional control. It has up to now not been used to assess influences of sudden onset distractor stimuli in MOT. We investigated whether attentional capture does occur in MOT: Are onset distractors processed at all in dynamic attentional tasks? We found that sudden onset distractors were effective in lowering probe detection, thus demonstrating attentional capture. Tracking performance as dependent measure was not affected. The attentional capture effect persisted in conditions of higher tracking load (Experiment 2) and was dramatically increased in lower presentation frequency of the onset distractor (Experiment 3). Tracking performance was shown to suffer only when onset distractors were presented serially with very short time gaps in between, thus effectively disturbing re-engaging attention on the tracking set (Experiment 4). We discuss that rapid dis- and re-engagement of the attention process on target objects and an additional more basic process that continuously provides location information allow managing strong disruptions of attention during tracking.
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