August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Expected Distractor Context Biases the Attentional Template for Target Shapes
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Maëlle Lerebourg
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behaviour
  • Floris de Lange
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behaviour
  • Marius V. Peelen
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition & Behaviour
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This project received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s 14 Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant Agreement No. 725970 to M.V. Peelen)).
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 4816. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Maëlle Lerebourg, Floris de Lange, Marius V. Peelen; Expected Distractor Context Biases the Attentional Template for Target Shapes. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):4816.

      Download citation file:

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

  • Supplements

Visual search is supported by an internal representation of the target, the attentional template. However, which features are diagnostic of target presence critically depends on the distractors as well. Accordingly, previous research showed that consistent distractor context shapes the attentional template for simple targets, with the template emphasizing diagnostic dimensions (e.g., colour or orientation) in blocks of trials. Here, we investigated how distractor expectations bias attentional templates for complex shapes, and tested whether such biases reflect inter-trial priming or can be instantiated flexibly. Participants searched for novel shapes (cued by name) in two probabilistic distractor contexts: either the target’s orientation or rectilinearity was unique (80% validity). Across four experiments, performance was better when the distractor context was expected, indicating that target features in the expected diagnostic dimension were emphasized. Attentional templates were biased by distractor expectations when distractor context was blocked, independently of self-reported awareness of the manipulation. Interestingly, attentional templates were also biased when distractor context was cued on a trial-by-trial basis, but only when the two contexts were consistently presented at distinct spatial locations. These results show that attentional templates can be highly flexible, incorporating expectations about target-distractor relations when looking for the same object in different contexts.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.