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Annie Truuvert, Matthew Hilchey, Susanne Ferber, Jay Pratt; Latent attentional capture is dependent on search display duration. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2307. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2307.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
While research from additional singleton paradigms suggest that a uniquely transient visual stimulus reliably captures visuospatial attention, research from contingent capture paradigms suggest capture by such a stimulus occurs only when it shares features of the target. Gaspelin, Ruthruff, and Lien (2016) proposed a solution to this discrepancy: attentional capture by a uniquely transient visual stimulus may be latent in contingent capture paradigms when the target in the subsequent search array is easily distinguished from distractors. That is, capture effects are not seen when attention does not need to dwell for long on the onset cue location to reject distractors because they are easily distinguishable from the target. Capture effects are revealed, however, in difficult visual search tasks because attention must dwell on the onset cue location because of high target-distractor similarity. It remains unclear why attention capture effects from an abrupt onset have been reliably observed in cueing studies, regardless of whether visual distractors are included in the target display. To examine this, our first experiment embedded a distractor-less search condition into an otherwise standard contingent capture paradigm to evaluate whether latent capture could also be revealed by merely removing the distractors. Consistent with the attentional dwelling account, we found latent cueing effects in the distractor-less condition. Our second experiment was identical to the first except the search array duration was extended from 120 ms to until response, as is typical of more traditional Posner cueing paradigms that show capture from a uniquely transient visual stimulus. This experiment revealed similar capture effects across all levels of search difficulty, consistent with more traditional Posner cueing paradigms but inconsistent with Gaspelin et al (2016). The results suggest that attentional capture from cues that do not share features with targets can be moderated by target display duration.
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