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    Item and category-based attentional control during search for real-world objects: can you find the pants among the pans?

    Nako, R. and Wu, Rachel and Smith, Tim J. and Eimer, Martin (2014) Item and category-based attentional control during search for real-world objects: can you find the pants among the pans? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 40 (4), pp. 1283-1288. ISSN 0096-1523.

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    Abstract

    To compare the speed and efficiency of item-based and category-based attentional control during visual search for real-world objects, we measured N2pc components as electrophysiological markers of attentional target selection. In different blocks, participants searched for 1 or 2 specific target objects or for any object in a target category (items of clothing or kitchen objects). Search displays contained 6 line drawings of different objects, and targets always appeared together with 5 distractors from the other object category. The presence of N2pc components to categorically defined targets demonstrated that category-based search can operate at visuoperceptual processing stages. In contrast to previous findings for letter/digit search (Nako, Wu, & Eimer, 2014), target N2pc components were delayed by 40 ms during category-guided search relative to single-target search. This suggests that for objects and object categories that are less familiar than alphanumerical stimuli, category-guided target selection operates less efficiently than selection that is based on a physical match with an attentional template.

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