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    Proactive suppression can be applied to multiple salient distractors in visual search

    Drisdelle, Brandi Lee and Eimer, Martin (2023) Proactive suppression can be applied to multiple salient distractors in visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 152 (9), pp. 2504-2519. ISSN 0096-3445.

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    There is a growing body of research demonstrating that the capture of attention by a single salient distractor can be prevented via proactive suppression. In real-world contexts, there are often several distracting events that compete for attention, but it is entirely unknown whether multiple objects can be suppressed concurrently. We used behavioural and electrophysiological measures to investigate the existence and time course of multiple-item suppression. We employed search displays that contained either one or two uniquely coloured distractors that differed in their salience (S+ and S-), or no such distractors. Search performance improved with the number of salient distractors, indicating that the suppression of multiple items reduced effective display set size. This was also the case when target colour was no longer fully predictable, ruling out an alternative explanation in terms of attentional guidance by target templates. In an experiment where S+ and S- always appeared together in the same display, the PD component (a marker of proactive suppression) was triggered exclusively by the more salient distractor (S+), indicative of single-item suppression. However, when displays with one or both salient distractors were intermixed, a reliable PD component was also triggered by S-, even when it was accompanied by S+ in the same display. These results show that multiple concurrent salient signals can be proactively inhibited. They demonstrate that signal suppression processes can be adaptively employed to counteract visual distraction at different locations, in order to facilitate the attentional selection of relevant objects in crowded visual environments.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 06:59
    Last Modified: 19 Jan 2024 13:19


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