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    Object-based target templates guide attention during visual search

    Berggren, Nick and Eimer, Martin (2018) Object-based target templates guide attention during visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 44 (9), pp. 1368-1382. ISSN 0096-1523.

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    During visual search, attention is believed to be controlled in a strictly feature-based fashion, without any guidance by object-based target representations. To challenge this received view, we measured electrophysiological markers of attentional selection (N2pc component) and working memory (SPCN) in search tasks where two possible targets were defined by feature conjunctions (e.g., blue circles and green squares). Critically, some search displays also contained nontargets with two target features (incorrect conjunction objects, e.g., blue squares). Because feature-based guidance cannot distinguish these objects from targets, any selective bias for targets will reflect object-based attentional control. In Experiment 1, where search displays always contained only one object with target-matching features, targets and incorrect conjunction objects elicited identical N2pc and SPCN components, demonstrating that attentional guidance was entirely feature-based. In Experiment 2, where targets and incorrect conjunction objects could appear in the same display, clear evidence for object-based attentional control was found. The target N2pc became larger than the N2pc to incorrect conjunction objects from 250 ms post-stimulus, and only targets elicited SPCN components. This demonstrates that after an initial feature-based guidance phase, object-based templates are activated when they are required to distinguish target and nontarget objects. These templates modulate visual processing and control access to working memory, and their activation may coincide with the start of feature integration processes. Results also suggest that while multiple feature templates can be activated concurrently, only a single object-based target template can guide attention at any given time.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): selective attention, top-down control, spatial attention, feature-based attention, object-based attention, event-related brain potentials
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2018 11:44
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:39


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