Non-transient luminance changes do not capture attention

Cole, Geoff G.; Kuhn, Gustav and Skarratt, Paul A.. 2011. Non-transient luminance changes do not capture attention. Attention Perception & Psychophysics, 73(5), pp. 1407-1421. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The processing of luminance change is a ubiquitous feature of the human visual system and provides the basis for the rapid orienting of attention to potentially important events (e.g., motion onset, object onset). However, despite its importance for attentional capture, it is not known whether a luminance change attracts attention solely because of its status as a sensory transient or can attract attention at a relatively high cognitive level. In a series of six experiments, we presented visual displays in which a single object underwent a luminance change that was either visible or obscured by a mask. A target then appeared either at the change location or elsewhere. The results showed that the luminance change attracted attention only in the visible condition. This was even observed with the largest change we could generate (> 75 cd/m(2)). These data suggest that the importance of a luminance change is only in its status as a low-level sensory transient.

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Times Cited: 1

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Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2013 10:54

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 09:28

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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