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Dirk van Moorselaar, Jan Theeuwes; Statistical distractor learning modulates perceptual sensitivity. Journal of Vision 2021;21(12):3. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.12.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The present study used perceptual sensitivity (d′) to determine the spatial distribution of attention in displays in which participants have learned to suppress a location that is most likely to contain a distractor. Participants had to indicate whether a horizontal or a vertical line, which was shown only briefly before it was masked, was present within a target shape. Critically, the target shape could be accompanied by a singleton distractor color, which when present appeared with a high probability at one display location. The results show that perceptual sensitivity was reduced for locations likely to contain a distractor, as d′ was lower for this location than for all other locations in the display. We also found that the presence of an irrelevant color singleton reduced the gain for input at the target location, particularly when the irrelevant singleton was close to the target singleton. We conclude that, through the repeated encounter with a distractor at a particular location, the weights within the attentional priority map are changed such that the perceptual sensitivity for objects presented at that location is reduced relative to all other locations. This reduction of perceptual sensitivity signifies that this location competes less for attention than all other locations.
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