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    Top-down dimensional weight set determines the capture of visual attention: evidence from the PCN component

    Tollner, T. and Muller, Hermann J. and Zehetleitner, M. (2012) Top-down dimensional weight set determines the capture of visual attention: evidence from the PCN component. Cerebral Cortex 22 (7), pp. 1554-1563. ISSN 1047-3211.

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    Visual search for feature singletons is slowed when a task-irrelevant, but more salient distracter singleton is concurrently presented. While there is a consensus that this distracter interference effect can be influenced by internal system settings, it remains controversial at what stage of processing this influence starts to affect visual coding. Advocates of the “stimulus-driven” view maintain that the initial sweep of visual processing is entirely driven by physical stimulus attributes and that top-down settings can bias visual processing only after selection of the most salient item. By contrast, opponents argue that top-down expectancies can alter the initial selection priority, so that focal attention is “not automatically” shifted to the location exhibiting the highest feature contrast. To precisely trace the allocation of focal attention, we analyzed the Posterior-Contralateral-Negativity (PCN) in a task in which the likelihood (expectancy) with which a distracter occurred was systematically varied. Our results show that both high (vs. low) distracter expectancy and experiencing a distracter on the previous trial speed up the timing of the target-elicited PCN. Importantly, there was no distracter-elicited PCN, indicating that participants did not shift attention to the distracter before selecting the target. This pattern unambiguously demonstrates that preattentive vision is top-down modifiable.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): attentional capture, electroencephalography, N2pc, saliency, visual Search
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2014 13:40
    Last Modified: 20 Feb 2014 13:40


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