Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Synergy of Stimulus-Driven Salience and Goal-Directed Prioritization: Evidence from the Spatial Blink

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Synergy of Stimulus-Driven Salience and Goal-Directed Prioritization: Evidence from the Spatial Blink

Article excerpt

In the spatial blink paradigm, participants search for a target of a designated color in a rapidly presented stream of letters at fixation. Target identification is typically impaired if a peripheral distractor appears shortly before the target, inducing a spatial blink, but impairment is observed only when the distractor also shares the sought-for color. Such results reveal an important top-down influence on the capture of attention. In the present experiments, we examined the influence of the bottom-up transients associated with the appearance and disappearance of distractors in the spatial blink paradigm. Onsets and offsets alone are incapable of inducing a spatial blink, but we found that the presence of such transients did enhance the effects of target-color-matched distractors. The results reveal important synergistic interactions between top-down and bottom-up factors involved in attentional capture.

The allocation of spatial attention is determined by the joint effects of stimulus-driven and goal-directed factors. Stimulus-driven selection occurs when attention is governed by stimulus salience. The abrupt onset of a new object is perhaps the prototypical example of stimulus-driven selection (Yantis, 1993; Yantis & Jonides, 1984, 1990). The onset of a new object captures attention not only during visual search, but also in a change detection task (Cole, Kentridge, & Heywood, 2004). Although part of the effect of an object onset may be due to the luminance transient associated with the event (Franconeri, Hollingworth, & Simons, 2005), new objects can capture attention even without a unique transient (Davoli, Suszko, & Abrams, 2007). In real-world scenes, the onset of new objects also yields prioritization even in the absence of a transient signal (Brockmole & Henderson, 2005). And finally, new objects often capture gaze when presented around the time of an eye movement (Theeuwes, Kramer, Hahn, & Irwin, 1998; Theeuwes, Kramer, Hahn, Irwin, & Zelinsky, 1999). Strong stimulus-driven capture is also caused in preexisting objects by the presence of an irrelevant feature singleton (Theeuwes, 2004), by the onset of motion (e.g., Abrams & Christ, 2003, 2005), or by the emergence of a new perceptual grouping (Christ & Abrams, 2006b).

Attention is also guided by goal-directed mechanisms in which attentional prioritization is determined by the particular goal at the moment. For example, Folk and colleagues found that uninformative precues captured attention if and only if they matched the target-defining feature (Folk, Remington, & Johnston, 1992; Folk, Remington, & Wright, 1994). Conversely, salient events, such as onsets and color or motion singletons, often fail to capture attention if they do not match the features that define the target (Bacon & Egeth, 1994; Gibson & Kelsey, 1998; Hillstrom & Yantis, 1994; Jonides & Yantis, 1988; Todd & Kramer, 1994). In addition, goal-directed selection can operate when a person has information about the likely spatial location of a target (Posner, 1980).

Although it appears that capture by onsets can sometimes be suppressed in some tasks if the onsets are inconsistent with top-down attentional control settings (Folk et al., 1992; Yantis & Jonides, 1990; but see Christ & Abrams, 2006a), some recently reported results have revealed important interactions between goal-directed and stimulus-driven selection (Ludwig & Gilchrist, 2002, 2003; Richard, Wright, & Ward, 2003). In particular, Ludwig and Gilchrist (2002) studied both onset capture and contingent capture in a saccadic and manual-pointing task. During the pointing task, Ludwig and Gilchrist (2002) presented a distractor that either did or did not match the target in color. Distractors appeared either with or without an abrupt onset. Ludwig and Gilchrist (2002) found that participants produced more inappropriate saccades to the color-matched distractors than to the color-unmatched ones, and more saccades were also made erroneously to distractors that abruptly onset. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.