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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2009 Aug;35(4):1032-42. doi: 10.1037/a0014493.

Motivationally significant stimuli show visual prior entry: evidence for attentional capture.

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University of Toroto, Department of Psychology, 100 St. George Street, Toroto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada.


Previous studies that have found attentional capture effects for stimuli of motivational significance do not directly measure initial attentional deployment, leaving it unclear to what extent these items produce attentional capture. Visual prior entry, as measured by temporal order judgments (TOJs), rests on the premise that allocated attention accelerates perception, that is, stimuli that receive attention first are perceived first; thus, this method is a sensitive and direct measure of the time course of initial attentional deployment. The authors demonstrate, using a novel TOJ paradigm without cues, that displays of faces and facial threat show visual prior entry effects, that is, these stimuli are prioritized by the perceptual-attentional system over other stimuli competing for awareness. This study provides direct evidence of the extent to which motivationally significant stimuli capture attention over other concurrently displayed items in the visual array.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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