September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Inopportune Warning Cues Benefit Only Some Participants in a Poser Cueing Task
Author Affiliations
  • Monique Crouse
    UC Santa Cruz
  • Travis Seymour
    UC Santa Cruz
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2097. doi:
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      Monique Crouse, Travis Seymour; Inopportune Warning Cues Benefit Only Some Participants in a Poser Cueing Task. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2097.

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

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In Posner’s (1980) classic study, he showed people can use peripheral cues to more quickly attend beyond where they are looking (covert attention). The standard Posner cueing paradigm presents isolated stimuli but the everyday world is dynamic, full of potential distractors, and information can appear at inopportune times. We assessed people’s use of a peripheral cue (a warning dot) that appeared while participants were engaged with a primary target discrimination task. The warning dot was highly predictive and indicated the location of the target on the NEXT trial but, when it appeared, it was irrelevant to the current task. Although we told participants the purpose of the warning dot and told them to use it to the best of their abilities, we found only about half of the participants said they used it. Both warning users and non-users experienced a disruption in current target processing but only warning users showed a facilitatory impact of warning validity on target processing on the next trial. Many non-warning users indicated they thought the warning dot was a distraction, or was inaccurate and disregarded it. These findings suggest that peripheral signals capture attention even when engaged with a primary task but the impact on later task performance is not uniform between people. In the everyday world, covert attention and the use of peripheral warnings may be less useful than once implied by Posner cueing paradigms and may only lead to distraction for some people.


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