Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Influence of Cueing on Attentional Focus in Perceptual Decision Making

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Influence of Cueing on Attentional Focus in Perceptual Decision Making

Article excerpt

Abstract Selective attention has been known to play an important role in decision making. In the present study, we combined a cueing paradigm with a redundant-target detection task to examine how attention affects the decision process when detecting the redundant targets. Cue validity was manipulated in two experiments. The results showed that when the cue was 50 % valid in one experiment, the participants adopted a parallel self-terminating processing strategy, indicative of a diffuse attentional focus on both target locations. When the cue was 100 % valid in the second experiment, all of the participants switched to a serial self-terminating processing strategy, which in our study indicated focused attention to a single target location. This study demonstrates the flexibility of the decision mechanism and highlights the importance of top-down control in selecting a decision strategy.

Keywords Attention * Decision making * System factorial technology

Published online: 18 June 2014

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

In this article, we examine how cue validity affects attentional focus to a target location. Though a number of parametric models of attention have been developed, we characterize attentional focus in a nonparametric fashion along two dimensions, the processing architecture and the processing capacity of an information processing system. Both of these measures provide evidence for whether attention is spread across two targets or localized to a single target when accumulating information for a detection decision. We utilize a redundant-target detection task, in which a target is presented in either one of two well-localized locations, both locations, or neither location, and an observer must respond yes if a target is detected in either location.

The task factorially combines the brightness of a target with the presence of a target at both or only one location; these two manipulations allow for the application of several systems factorial technology (SFT; Townsend & Nozawa, 1995; Townsend & Wenger, 2004) measures that can be used to diagnose the processing architecture (e.g., serial vs. parallel vs. coactive processing), the decisional stopping rule (self-terminating vs. exhaustive rale), and processing capacity (limited capacity vs. unlimited capacity vs. supercapacity). Our goal in this article is to examine how an informationprocessing strategy is affected by the presence of an informative or uninformative cue.

The redundant-target detection task has been widely used to investigate how information from multiple sources is processed to trigger a single response (Miller, 1982, 1986, 1991; Miniussi, Girelli, & Marzi, 1998; Mordkoff & Yantis, 1991, 1993; Townsend & Nozawa, 1995). The processing requirements of this task are well-known (see Townsend & Nozawa, 1995, for a review). In a typical version of this task, participants are required to supervise two distinct locations. When any dot stimulus at either location is detected, participants have to make a speedy response; otherwise, if no dot stimulus is detected, then an alternative response is to be emitted. Previous studies have shown that reaction times (RTs) in the double-dot condition (both locations contain a target) are faster than those in the single-dot condition (only one location contains a target). This phenomenon is called the redundant-target effect (RTE) or the redundancy gain (RG).

Two major accounts have been proposed to explain the RTE: First, according to the horse-race model or the independent-race model (Raab, 1962), the RTE is observed because of the statistical facilitation from the two different channels. That is, the distribution of minimum completion times for processing two targets (double-dot condition) will be less than the distribution of processing times for any one target (single-dot condition); this is expected if processing both locations is accomplished in a parallel, self-terminating fashion, in which each location is processed independently but in a simultaneous fashion. …

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