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05-02-2016 | Original Article

Activation of context-specific attentional control sets by exogenous allocation of visual attention to the context?

Auteurs: Caroline Gottschalk, Rico Fischer

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 2/2017

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Abstract

Different contexts with high versus low conflict frequencies require a specific attentional control involvement, i.e., strong attentional control for high conflict contexts and less attentional control for low conflict contexts. While it is assumed that the corresponding control set can be activated upon stimulus presentation at the respective context (e.g., upper versus lower location), the actual features that trigger control set activation are to date not described. Here, we ask whether the perceptual priming of the location context by an abrupt onset of irrelevant stimuli is sufficient in activating the context-specific attentional control set. For example, the mere onset of a stimulus might disambiguate the relevant location context and thus, serve as a low-level perceptual trigger mechanism that activates the context-specific attentional control set. In Experiment 1 and 2, the onsets of task-relevant and task-irrelevant (distracter) stimuli were manipulated at each context location to compete for triggering the activation of the appropriate control set. In Experiment 3, a prior training session enabled distracter stimuli to establish contextual control associations of their own before entering the test session. Results consistently showed that the mere onset of a task-irrelevant stimulus (with or without a context-control association) is not sufficient to activate the context-associated attentional control set by disambiguating the relevant context location. Instead, we argue that the identification of the relevant stimulus at the respective context is a precondition to trigger the activation of the context-associated attentional control set.
Voetnoten
1
Note, that for the study of RC compatibility effects the performance of Task 1 is the primary dependent measure. Performance in Task 2 is theoretically less important but is typically reported to control for trade-offs between tasks.
 
2
In a pilot study with equal font size, participants spontaneously reported that letters appeared larger in size than digits. This might be due to a wider horizontal extension of letters compared to digits. Therefore, we adjusted the size of letters to obtain a visually comparable impression.
 
3
It is conceivable, for example, that the requirement of re-orientation leads to a particular strong activation of the correct attentional control set, which might explain an increased CSPC effect in error rates of Block 2 in Experiment 3 when task-irrelevant stimuli appear first. We thank an anonymous reviewer for mentioning this possibility.
 
4
For the first block of Experiment 2, the CSPC effect (40 ms) was not significant, F(1, 19) = 1.68, p = .211 η p 2  = .08, which might be due to a power problem.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Activation of context-specific attentional control sets by exogenous allocation of visual attention to the context?
Auteurs
Caroline Gottschalk
Rico Fischer
Publicatiedatum
05-02-2016
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 2/2017
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-016-0746-5

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