Dissociating location-specific inhibition and attention shifts: Evidence against the disengagement account of contingent capture
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The study of attentional capture has provided a rich context for assessing the relative influence of top-down and bottom-up factors in visual perception. Some have argued that attentional capture by a salient, irrelevant stimulus is contingent on top-down attentional set (e.g., Folk, Remington, & Johnston, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 18:1030-1044, 1992). Others, however, have argued that capture is driven entirely by bottom-up salience and that top-down factors influence the postallocation speed of disengagement from the irrelevant stimulus (e.g., Theeuwes, Acta Psychologica 135:77-99, 2010a). In support of this speed-of-disengagement hypothesis, recent findings from the modified spatial-cuing paradigm show that cues carrying a no-go target property produce reverse, or negative, cuing effects, consistent with inhibition of the cue location from which attention has been very quickly disengaged (Belopolsky, Schreij, & Theeuwes, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72, 326-341, 2010). Across six experiments, we show that this inhibitory process can be dissociated from shifts of spatial attention and is, thus, not a reliable marker of capture. We conclude that the data are inconsistent with the predictions of the disengagement hypothesis.
author list (cited authors)
Anderson, B. A., & Folk, C. L.