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Percept Psychophys. 2000 Oct;62(7):1485-93.

Attentional capture by abrupt onsets and feature singletons produces inhibitory surrounds.

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Department of Psychology, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY 14454, USA.


Two experiments found that form discriminations to a target item were inhibited when the target appeared adjacent to an attentionally salient item. Experiment 1 manipulated the attentional salience of an irrelevant color singleton through the attentional set adopted by the subjects. Color singletons captured attention when the target was itself a feature singleton, but not when the target was defined as a conjunction of features. Attentional capture was accompanied by an inhibitory region (i.e., slowed target reaction times), which dissipated with distance from the color singleton. In Experiment 2, the attentional salience of abrupt onsets and color singletons was compared. Irrelevant abrupt onsets captured attention, whereas irrelevant color singletons failed to capture attention. Again, an inhibitory region surrounded the attentionally salient abrupt onsets, but not the color singletons. The results are discussed in the context of current models of visual spatial attention and suggest a distinction between attentional preparation and attentional selection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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