September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Feature Avoidance: A Result of Probabilistic Attentional Guidance
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • William Narhi-Martinez
    The Ohio State University
  • Jiageng Chen
    The Ohio State University
  • Julie D. Golomb
    The Ohio State University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  NIH R01-EY025648 (JG), NSF 1848939 (JG)
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 1926. doi:
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      William Narhi-Martinez, Jiageng Chen, Julie D. Golomb; Feature Avoidance: A Result of Probabilistic Attentional Guidance. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):1926.

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

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The broad categories of attentional guidance (top-down, bottom-up, and, more recently, selection history) have been widely used as heuristics to label different influences on attention, with the idea being those within a category should produce similar effects. However, additional traits within these broad categories may also play a large role in how a cue influences attention and the encoding of features. Prior work utilizing a continuous report delayed-estimation task to investigate deterministic top-down and salient bottom-up manipulations demonstrated swapping errors (i.e., the misreporting of a nontarget feature) and/or distortion errors (i.e., target responses biased either away from or towards a nontarget that had attracted attention), depending on the type of cue (Golomb et al., 2014; Dowd & Golomb 2019; Chen et al., 2019). The aim of the present study was to investigate how probabilistic cues (either top-down or experience-dependent) would impact attention and feature reporting, and whether we would observe patterns of errors suggesting similar attentional effects to those elicited by the previously studied deterministic top-down and bottom-up cues. To do this, we implemented a spatial probability cue or probabilistic arrow pre-cue to bias attention to one location before an array of colored items appeared and the target location was post-cued. Interestingly, instead of observing feature-binding errors such as swap errors or attraction to an attended nontarget, a unique effect emerged. Termed ‘feature avoidance’, when participants did not report the correct target color, they tended to misreport a color from the opposite side of the color-wheel to the color of the probabilistically cued nontarget, as if they were avoiding selection of that feature. This ‘feature avoidance’ seems to represent a phenomenon unique to probabilistic cues, and suggests a distinct influence of these types of cues on the attentional system compared to the previously reported shifting, splitting, or capturing of attention.


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