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Cathleen M. Moore, James Pai, John Palmer; Divided attention effects in visual search are caused by objects not by space. Journal of Vision 2022;22(12):2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.12.2.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Divided attention effects have been observed across a variety of stimuli and perceptual tasks, which have given rise to both object-based and space-based theories of divided attention. Object-based theories assert that processing information from multiple objects is limited, whereas space-based theories assert that processing information from multiple locations is limited. Extant results in the literature are collectively inconsistent with both simple object-based theories and simple space-based theories of divided attention. Using a visual search task with the extended simultaneous-sequential method to reveal capacity limitations, we found evidence of limited-capacity processing of object properties and unlimited-capacity processing of feature contrast. We found no evidence of a separate spatial limitation. A multiple pathway processing theory can account for these and a large body of previous results. According to this theory, tasks that require object processing must follow a limited-capacity pathway and therefore incur divided attention effects. Tasks that depend on only feature contrast can follow a separate unlimited-capacity processing pathway and therefore do not incur divided attention effects.
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