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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1996 Dec;22(6):1505-13.

Attentional capture by abrupt onsets: new perceptual objects or visual masking?

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Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2685, USA.


The authors have shown that an object appearing abruptly in a previously blank location is efficiently detected in visual search when it is embedded in an array of objects without abrupt onset (term no-onset stimuli). In these experiments, no-onset stimuli appeared well before the onset stimulus but were camouflaged by additional line segments rendering the stimuli unidentifiable. B. S. Gibson (1996) claims that the availability of the no-onset stimuli was delayed relative to that of the abrupt onset stimulus because of forward masking. The authors show that forward masking is unlikely to be a significant factor in their experiments, and 3 new experiments are reported that undermine Gibson's masking account. Observed differences in the efficiency with which onset and no-onset stimuli are processed in visual search are due to attentional capture by new perceptual objects and to a relatively sluggish process of updating existing object representations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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