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    The preparatory activation of guidance templates for visual search and of target templates in non-search tasks

    Dodwell, Gordon and Nako, Rebecca and Eimer, Martin (2024) The preparatory activation of guidance templates for visual search and of target templates in non-search tasks. Journal of Cognition 7 (1), pp. 1-19. ISSN 2514-4820.

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    Abstract

    Representations of task-relevant object attributes (attentional templates) control the adaptive selectivity of visual processing. Previous studies have demonstrated that templates involved in the guidance of attention during visual search are activated in a preparatory fashion prior to the arrival of visual search displays. The current study investigated whether such proactive mechanisms are also triggered in non-search tasks, where attentional templates do not mediate the guidance of attention towards targets amongst distractors but are still necessary for subsequent target recognition processes. Participants either searched for colour-defined targets among multiple distractors or performed two other non-search tasks where imperative stimuli appeared without competing distractors (a colour-based Go / NoGo task, and a shape discrimination task where target colour was constant and could thus be ignored). Preparatory activation of colour-selective templates was tracked by measuring N2pc components (markers of attention allocation) to task-irrelevant colour singleton probes flashed every 200 ms during the interval between target displays. As expected, N2pcs were triggered by target-coloured probes in the search task, indicating that a corresponding guidance template was triggered proactively. Critically, clear probe N2pcs were also observed in the Go / NoGo task, and even in the shape discrimination task in an attenuated fashion. These findings demonstrate that the preparatory activation of feature-selective attentional task settings is not uniquely associated with the guidance of visual search but is also present in other types of visual selection tasks where guidance is not required.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2024 17:31
    Last Modified: 30 Jan 2024 03:35
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/52796

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