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Psychon Bull Rev. 2007 Jun;14(3):392-422.

Displaywide visual features associated with a search display's appearance can mediate attentional capture.

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University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York, USA.


Whether or not the capture of visual attention is driven solely by the salience of an attention-capturing stimulus or mediated by top-down control has been a point of contention since Folk, Remington, and Johnston (1992) introduced their contingent involuntary orienting hypothesis, which states that the capture of attention by a salient stimulus depends on its relevance to a feature distinguishing the target from nontargets. Gibson and Kelsey (1998) extended Folk et al.'s (1992) hypothesis by demonstrating that features associated with the appearance of the target display also mediate capture. Although similar to Folk et al. (1992), Gibson and Kelsey's displaywide contingent orienting hypothesis makes it difficult to demonstrate stimulus-driven capture, because an observer must always use some perceptible feature as a signal of the target display's appearance; hence, such features could always be mediating capture. The present article reviews and applies the logic of Gibson and Kelsey's and Folk et al.'s (1992) hypotheses to experiments from the attentional capture literature, and assesses whether previously reported capture effects were mediated by top-down attentional control. It concludes that these capture effects were not stimulus-driven.

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