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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 5/2021

04-06-2020 | Original Article

No identification of abrupt onsets that capture attention: evidence against a unified model of spatial attention

Auteurs: Joshua William Maxwell, Nicholas Gaspelin, Eric Ruthruff

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 5/2021

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Abstract

Many studies have reported that spatial attention can be involuntarily captured by salient stimuli such as abrupt onsets. These involuntary shifts are often assumed to have the same effects on feature extraction as voluntary shifts: there are two different ways of moving the same attentional mechanism. According to this unified model of spatial attention, all shifts of attention should enhance the identification of attended objects. We directly tested this assumption using compatibility effects in a series of spatial cueing experiments. Participants searched a display and indicated whether the target number was greater or less than five. The salient precues were also numbers, allowing measurement of compatibility effects between the precue and the target. Precues that reliably predicted the target location produced compatibility effects (e.g., the precue “1” facilitated responding to the target “one”), indicating enhanced identification of the precue. Compatibility effects were also found for precues that were nonpredictive but had the target-finding feature (i.e., contingent capture). Critically, however, four separate experiments failed to find compatibility effects for salient abrupt onsets that were neither predictive nor task-relevant. This is surprising given that these same precues produced enormous cue validity effects (up to 186 ms), suggesting salience-based attention capture. Our findings argue against the unified model: salience-based attention capture recruits different attentional mechanisms than contingent capture or voluntary shifts in attention.

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Voetnoten
1
Zivony and Lamy (2018) found a correlation between cueing effects and compatibility effects for task-relevant abrupt onsets, r(57) = 0.38, p = 0.003, but not for irrelevant onsets r(57) = 0.09, p = 0.500. They therefore argued that the lack of compatibility effects for irrelevant abrupt onsets is not due merely to a scaling effect (a small location effect makes it difficult for an irrelevant onset to produce a compatibility effect).
 
2
RT and error rate analyses showed opposing trends for cue validity effects in E1. Therefore, we reanalyzed the data using inverse efficiency scores (defined as RT/(1 − error rate)) which combine RT and accuracy effects into one score. In this analysis, cue validity effects were still significantly larger for task-relevant cues than for task-irrelevant cues, t(54) = 2.01, p = 0.049, d = 0.54.
 
3
The cutoff value in Experiment 4 was adjusted upward so that the cutoff was again roughly twice the mean RT. Despite this increase, the percent of trials trimmed was higher in Experiment 4. We also ran a follow-up analysis using an even higher cutoff value (3000 ms) that eliminated a more similar percent of trials as the earlier experiments (2.0%); the key effects did not change by more than 2 ms.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
No identification of abrupt onsets that capture attention: evidence against a unified model of spatial attention
Auteurs
Joshua William Maxwell
Nicholas Gaspelin
Eric Ruthruff
Publicatiedatum
04-06-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 5/2021
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01367-4