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Attentional capture by visual singletons is mediated by top-down task set: new evidence from the N2pc component

Kiss, Monika and Jolicœur, P. and dell'Acqua, R. and Eimer, Martin (2008) Attentional capture by visual singletons is mediated by top-down task set: new evidence from the N2pc component. Psychophysiology 45 (6), pp. 1013-1024. ISSN 0048-5772.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2008.00700.x

Abstract

To investigate whether attentional capture by salient visual stimuli is mediated by current task sets, we measured the N2pc component as a marker of the spatial locus of visual attention during visual search. In each trial, a singleton stimulus that could either be a target (color task: red circle; shape task: green diamond) or a nontarget (blue circle or green square) was presented among uniform distractors (green circles). As predicted by the view that attentional capture is contingent on task set, the N2pc was strongly affected by task instructions. It was maximal for targets, attenuated but still reliably present for nontarget singletons defined in the target dimension (even when these were accompanied by an irrelevant-dimension singleton), and small or absent for equally salient irrelevant-dimension singletons. Results demonstrate that attentional capture is not a purely bottom-up phenomenon, but is strongly determined by top-down task set.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Attention, attentional capture, visual search, pop-out, cognitive control, event-related potentials
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2011 10:11
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:19
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2391

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