Learned Value Magnifies Salience-Based Attentional Capture
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Visual attention is captured by physically salient stimuli (termed salience-based attentional capture), and by otherwise task-irrelevant stimuli that contain goal-related features (termed contingent attentional capture). Recently, we reported that physically nonsalient stimuli associated with value through reward learning also capture attention involuntarily (Anderson, Laurent, & Yantis, PNAS, 2011). Although it is known that physical salience and goal-relatedness both influence attentional priority, it is unknown whether or how attentional capture by a salient stimulus is modulated by its associated value. Here we show that a physically salient, task-irrelevant distractor previously associated with a large reward slows visual search more than an equally salient distractor previously associated with a smaller reward. This magnification of salience-based attentional capture by learned value extinguishes over several hundred trials. These findings reveal a broad influence of learned value on involuntary attentional capture.
author list (cited authors)
Anderson, B. A., Laurent, P. A., & Yantis, S.