Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Looking and Listening: A Comparison of Intertrial Repetition Effects in Visual and Auditory Search Tasks

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Looking and Listening: A Comparison of Intertrial Repetition Effects in Visual and Auditory Search Tasks

Article excerpt

Published online: 6 May 2015

# The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract Previous research shows that performance on popout search tasks is facilitated when the target and distractors repeat across trials compared to when they switch. This phenomenon has been shown for many different types of visual stimuli. We tested whether the effect would extend beyond visual stimuli to the auditory modality. Using a temporal search task that has previously been shown to elicit priming of pop-out with visual stimuli (Yashar & Lamy, Psychological Science, 21(2), 243-251, 2010), we showed that priming of pop-out does occur with auditory stimuli and has characteristics similar to those of an analogous visual task. These results suggest that either the same or similar mechanisms might underlie priming of pop-out in both modalities.

Keywords Visual search .Auditory search . Intertrial priming

Given the enormous amount of information continuously reaching us from the external world, we must efficiently select and process the most important of this information in order to survive and thrive. One approach to achieving this efficiency may be reflected in the finding that attention seems to be drawn towards features that have recently been the target of attention instead of new or recently ignored features (Kristjánsson & Campana, 2010; Lamy, Antebi, Aviani, & Carmel, 2008; Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994, 1996). In the context of popout search tasks (i.e., search tasks in which the target feature subjectively seems to Bpop out^ from the distractors, resulting in a search time that is largely uninfluenced by the number of distractors), this effect is called priming of pop-out (PoP) and manifests as shorter reaction times (RTs) when the target feature repeats across trials than when it switches.

The mechanisms underlying PoP seem to be quite general, as PoP has been observed for targets defined by many different kinds of features, including color (Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994), position (Geyer, Müller, & Krummenacher, 2007; Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1996), size (Huang, Holcombe, & Pashler, 2004), shape (Thomson & Milliken, 2011), feature dimension (Found & Müller, 1996), relative shape (Becker, 2013), relative color (Becker, Valuch, & Ansorge, 2014), and facial emotion (Lamy, Amunts, & Bar-Haim, 2008), among others. One boundary condition may be that the localization of a target item amongst distractor items is necessary for the effect to emerge. For example, PoP might not occur when arrays of items are viewed passively (Kristjánsson, Saevarsson, &Driver,2013), when the location of the upcoming target is revealed by a spatial cue (Goolsby & Suzuki, 2001), or when the target is presented in a constant location with no distractors (Wolfe, Butcher, Lee, & Hyle, 2003).

Yashar and Lamy (2010) aimed to refine this boundary condition by testing whether spatial localization was necessary for PoP to occur, or whether the same effects would be expressed during a temporal search at a single spatial location. They used a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task in which a sequence of 12 numbers appeared on screen one at a time. Eleven of the numbers were distractors that were presented in one color, and one was a differently colored target item. Participants indicated whether the target number was odd or even. The task involved temporal search because the target could be presented anywhere from the fifth to the ninth location on a given trial but did not involve spatial localization because all items appeared at the same spatial location. They found that PoP did occur in this temporal search task, with participants responding more quickly when the target and distractor colors repeated than when they switched. Additionally, they found that responses were faster when the temporal position of the target repeated than when it switched (temporal position priming), paralleling the common finding in spatial localization tasks of shorter RTs when the spatial location repeats. …

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