Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Persistence of Attentional Set

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Persistence of Attentional Set

Article excerpt

ATTENTIONAL CONTROL

LEBER ET AL. (in press). Long-term abstract learning of attentional set. JEP:HPP.

When searching complex scenes for particular objects, observers typically use an attentional set to guide search. For example, when searching for the ketchup in the refrigerator, the attentional set would ideally direct attention toward red bottles and away from leafy greens. In typical attention experiments, an attentional set is established for the duration of the experiment, and relatively little research has studied how long attentional sets continue to guide search.

To study this question, Leber et al. used a training session to encourage observers to search for either a specific feature (e.g., a red item among other colored items) or for a color singleton (e.g., a unique-colored item among uniform items). In a subsequent test session, the observers searched through displays containing, for example, a red target among uniform items. In these test displays, attention could be guided by either feature or singleton information. To determine which attentional set an observer used in the test session, task-irrelevant distractors appeared that would capture attention if they matched the observer's attentional set. In Leber et al.'s study, the distractor, like the target, was a uniquely colored item among uniform items. Observers who searched using specific feature information (e. …

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