Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Nonattentional Effects of Nonpredictive Central Cues

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Nonattentional Effects of Nonpredictive Central Cues

Article excerpt

Recent evidence suggests that nonpredictive gaze, hand, arrow, and peripheral cues elicit shifts of reflexive attention. In the present article, we address whether these cues also influence the decision criterion in a go/no-go task. Nonpredictive central gaze and hand cues pointed toward or away from the location of an imminent target. Responses to the targets were faster, and false alarm errors were more frequent, when cues pointed toward the target than when they were directed away from it. Although a similar pattern was observed with nonpredictive arrow cues, it was not seen with nonpredictive peripheral cues. These results suggest that nonpredictive central cues not only affect attention, but also bias decision processes.

Since the early work of Posner (1980), it has been argued that predictive central cues evoke a shift of voluntary, endogenous attention. These central cues predict, with some degree of certainty, the location of the imminent target. The effects of predictive central cues are vulnerable to concurrent memory load (Jonides, 1981). It is thought that shifts of endogenous attention, elicited from predictive central cues, improve target processing by excluding external noise (Lu & Dosher, 2000), although others have argued that predictive central cues also enhance the perceptual representation of the target (Prinzmetal, McCool, & Park, 2005). Shifts of reflexive, exogenous attention, however, are elicited from nonpredictive peripheral cues. The effects of peripheral cues are impervious to concurrent memory load and instructions to ignore the cue (Jonides, 1981). Like endogenous attention, exogenous attention improves target processing by excluding external noise from the target (Dosher & Lu, 2000). Unlike endogenous attention, however, exogenous attention also enhances the perceptual representation of the target (Dosher & Lu, 2000). There are other differences between exogenous and endogenous forms of orienting. Endogenous attention increases the Stroop effect, whereas exogenous attention decreases it (Funes, Lupiáñez, & Milliken, 2007). Exogenous orienting effects are greater within a conjunction task than within a feature task, whereas endogenous orienting effects are similar in both tasks (Briand & Klein, 1987). Although endogenous and exogenous attention facilitate responding to impending targets, the mechanisms by which they do so are likely different (Klein, 1994; Klein & Shore, 2000).

Klein and colleagues have uncovered another important dissociation between endogenous and exogenous attention. Whereas endogenous attentional effects interact with nonspatial stimulus-response probability effects (Handy, Green, Klein, & Mangun, 2001; Kingstone, 1992; Klein & Hansen, 1990), exogenous attentional effects do not (Klein, 1994). The effects of endogenous cues on response times (RTs) are larger for high-frequency targets than they are for less frequent targets. Moreover, the difference in error rates between the infrequent and frequent targets is greater at the cued location than it is at the uncued location. In other words, when presented at the cued location, less frequent targets are more likely to be classified incorrectly than frequent targets. Handy et al. referred to this pattern of results as postspotlight masking, implying that late pigeonholing effects (e.g., Broadbent, 1971) mask the effect of endogenous orienting to low-frequency targets. Accordingly, Klein (1994) argued that predictive central cues, but not nonpredictive peripheral cues, influence the decision criterion.

Nonpredictive peripheral cues have early (attentional facilitation) and late (i.e., inhibition of return, or IOR) effects on information processing. Posner and Cohen (1984) discovered a biphasic response from nonpredictive peripheral cues: Responses to cued targets are initially facilitated by a cue; but with an extended (greater than 300 msec) cue-target onset asynchrony (CTOA), responses to cued targets become slower than those to uncued targets. …

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