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    The roles of relevance and expectation for the control of attention in visual search

    Berggren, Nick and Eimer, Martin (2019) The roles of relevance and expectation for the control of attention in visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 45 (9), pp. 1191-1205. ISSN 0096-1523.

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    Representations of target-defining features (attentional templates) control the allocation of attention during visual search. We investigated whether template-guided attentional selectivity is sensitive not only to the relevance of visual features, but also to expectations about their probability. Search displays could contain a target in an expected (80%) or unexpected (20%) color. They were preceded by spatially uninformative cues that matched either the expected or unexpected target color. These color cues attracted attention, reflected by behavioral spatial cueing effects and by cue-elicited N2pc components obtained via EEG measured during task performance. Critically, these attentional capture effects were identical for both color cues, suggesting that preparatory attentional templates only reflect relevance, and are insensitive to expectations about target color probabilities. In contrast, RTs and N2pc components to search targets in the unexpected color were delayed, showing that expectations modulated the speed of attentional target selection within search displays. This dissociation between the effects of relevance and expectation on attentional preparation versus target selection suggests that these two parameters for attentional control are represented differently. Task-relevance is likely to be specified at the level of individual features, whereas expectations could be represented in an object-based fashion.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 201x. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 11:41
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:50


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