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Top-down task sets for combined features: behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for two stages in attentional object selection

By Monika Kiss, A. Grubert and Martin Eimer


We studied whether visual search for targets defined by a combination of features from different dimensions is guided by separately represented target features or by an integrated representation of the target objects. In Experiment 1, participants searched for target singleton bars that were defined by a specific combination of color (red or blue) and size (small or large). The target arrays were preceded by cue arrays that contained a spatially uninformative color/size singleton. Behavioral spatial-cueing effects indicative of attentional capture were triggered only by cues that matched both target-defining features, but not by partially target-matching cues, suggesting that attention was guided by integrated object representations. However, the presence of reliable N2pc components for partially matching cues demonstrated that these cues did capture attention, in line with independent feature-based guidance of attention. This dissociation between the electrophysiological and behavioral markers of attentional capture was confirmed in Experiment 2, in which targets were defined by a color/size disjunction. Our results suggest that the attentional selection of targets that are defined by a combination of features is a two-stage process: Attention is initially captured by all target-matching features, but is then rapidly withdrawn from nontarget objects that share some but not all features with the current target

Topics: psyc
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2013
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