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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2005 Mar;11(1):3-12.

Object-based attention and cognitive tunneling.

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  • 1Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Simulator-based research has shown that pilots cognitively tunnel their attention on head-up displays (HUDs). Cognitive tunneling has been linked to object-based visual attention on the assumption that HUD symbology is perceptually grouped into an object that is perceived and attended separately from the external scene. The present research strengthens the link between cognitive tunneling and object-based attention by showing that (a) elements of a visual display that share a common fate are grouped into a perceptual object and that this grouping is sufficient to sustain object-based attention, (b) object-based attention and thereby cognitive tunneling is affected by strategic focusing of attention, and (c) object-based attention is primarily inhibitory in nature.

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