Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Intertrial Priming of Pop-Out Search Influences the Shift, Skew, and Dispersion of Response Time Distributions

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Intertrial Priming of Pop-Out Search Influences the Shift, Skew, and Dispersion of Response Time Distributions

Article excerpt

Published online: 21 April 2015

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract Priming of pop-out (PoP), or intertrial priming, is the finding that responding to a singleton target is faster when a target's defining feature (e.g., color) and nontarget features are repeated between trials than when the target and nontarget features switch between trials. Facilitated responding may reflect priming's influence on selection, that is, implicitly encoded features speed the selection of a matching target. In contrast, PoP effects may also reflect intertrial priming's influence on postselection processes, where episodic retrieval of a previous target is facilitated when its features match the current target. Lamy, Yashar, and Ruderman Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73, 2160-2167 (2011) proposed a hybrid, dual-stage model that assumes intertrial priming influences both selection and postselection retrieval. To provide support for intertrial priming influencing more than one cognitive process, we examined priming's influence on the shift, skew, and dispersion of RT distributions in PoP tasks by fitting the exponential-Gaussian function to the RTs. Three experiments demonstrated that PoP effects at the level of mean RT were associated with changes in both the shiftand skew of the underlying RT distributions. Importantly, Experiments 2 and 3 showed that manipulations intended to influence selection or postselection processes produced corresponding changes in the contributions of the distribution shiftand skew to the PoP effects on mean RT. The results suggest more than one process is influenced by intertrial priming in visual search tasks, but readers should be cautious about relating specific processes to specific exponential-Gaussian parameters.

Keywords Priming of pop-out . Visual search . Priming . Attention response time distributions

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

A ubiquitous finding in the visual search literature is that visual search is facilitated when target and distractor features are repeated across trials (e.g., Chun & Jiang, 1998; Chun & Nakayama, 2000; Lamy, Antebi, Aviani, & Carmel, 2008; Lamy, Yashar, & Ruderman, 2010; Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994, 1996, 2000; Müller, Heller, & Ziegler, 1995; Wolfe, Butcher, Lee, & Hyle, 2003). For example, Maljkovic and Nakayama (1994) demonstrated that during search for a singleton target (pop-out search), when there was uncertainty about whether the target would be a red item among green items or a green item among red items, repeating the target color sped responding, relative to when the target and distractor colors Bswitched across trials. This priming of pop-out (PoP) or intertrial priming effect has been observed with color (Goolsby & Suzuki, 2001; Olivers & Humphreys, 2003), orientation (Hillstrom, 2000; Olivers & Humphreys, 2003), and shape (Lamy, Carmel, Egeth, & Leber, 2006). Intertrial priming effects have also been found with size (Huang, Holcombe,&Pashler, 2004) and when targets are defined by a conjunction of features (Kristjánssona, Wang, & Nakayama, 2002), and the results are generally the same: RTs are faster and accuracy is greater when the target features and distractor features repeat than when those features switch or are not repeated. Such results suggest that features orthogonal to a task are implicitly encoded into short-term memory and facilitate search.

According to selection accounts (e.g., Chun & Nakayama, 2000; Goolsby & Suzuki, 2001; Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994, 1996), the repetition of target and distractor features speeds the selection of those same features on the following trial. When the target and distractor features from trial n-1 repeat, this facilitates selection of and responding to the target on trialn, but impedes selection when the target and distractor features switch roles across trials n-1 and n, by allocating attention toward the distractors. …

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