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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2008 Jan;127(1):89-102. Epub 2007 Apr 8.

Is location cueing inherently superior to color cueing? Not if color is presented early enough.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, The University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel.


A possible source for the advantage of location cueing over non-spatial cueing is that orienting attention by a location cue is feasible prior to stimulus onset, whereas that is normally not the case with orienting by a non-spatial cue. To examine how critical that source is for observing an advantage, we eliminated it: In a color-preview condition, subjects were to detect a target presented on the background of one of two differently colored circles (where color-location assignment was random). In a no-preview condition, the circles were both gray, but the target was either red or green (where color assignment was random). Cue type (location vs color) was also manipulated. The color preview in Experiment 1 (in which color onset preceded cue onset) was found helpful: Whereas a substantial disparity in validity effects of the two cue types was obtained with no preview, no significant difference was found when a color preview was introduced. The validity effects of both cue types were found to be about the same also in Experiment 2, in which color onset was exactly synchronized with cue onset, and SOA was manipulated. Furthermore, the absence of an SOA x cue type interaction indicated that the time course of the color cue validity did not lag after the time course of the location cue validity, which seems incompatible with the hypothesis that a color cue cannot affect orienting without first computing a location from it prior to cue onset. Overall, the results suggest that the time course of color cueing is not inherently different from that of location cueing once its main disadvantages are removed.

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