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Attentional capture does not depend on feature similarity, but on target-nontarget relations.

Becker, Stefanie I; Folk, Charles L; Remington, Roger W.
Psychol Sci ; 24(5): 634-47, 2013 May.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23558547
What factors determine which stimuli of a scene will be visually selected and become available for conscious perception? The currently prevalent view is that attention operates on specific feature values, so attention will be drawn to stimuli that have features similar to those of the sought-after target. Here, we show that, instead, attentional capture depends on whether a distractor's feature relationships match the target-nontarget relations (e.g., redder). In three spatial-cuing experiments, we found that (a) a cue with the target color (e.g., orange) can fail to capture attention when the cue-cue-context relations do not match the target-nontarget relations (e.g., redder target vs. yellower cue), whereas (b) a cue with the nontarget color can capture attention when its relations match the target-nontarget relations (e.g., both are redder). These results support a relational account in which attention is biased toward feature relationships instead of particular feature values, and show that attentional capture by an irrelevant distractor does not depend on feature similarity, but rather depends on whether the distractor matches or mismatches the target's relative attributes (e.g., relative color).