Visual Attentional Capture Resists Modulation in Singleton Search under Verbal Working Memory Load

by Martin Johansson

Institution: University of Skövde
Year: 2016
Keywords: singleton search; visual attention; attentional orienting; selective attention; attentional capture; top - down; bottom - up; verbal working memory; AVGP; trait anxiety; Social Sciences; Psychology; Samhällsvetenskap; Psykologi; Consciousness Studies - Philosophy and Neuropsychology; Medvetandestudier - filosofi och neuropsykologi; Cognitive Neuroscience; Kognitiv neurovetenskap
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2132240
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:his:diva-12321


Visual attentional capture is a form of visual attentional selection that is automatic and involuntary in nature, and is of high adaptive value as it allows visual attention to be oriented in a reflexive manner towards visual information without necessarily being guided by pre-existing knowledge, goals, and plans. According to the load-hypothesis (Lavie & De Fockert, 2005), attentional capture of salient stimuli increases under load on working memory due to disruption of stimulus-processing priorities. Moreover, it has been proposed that maintenance of task-irrelevant verbal information increases distractor interference in singleton search by increasing attentional capture of salient, but task-irrelevant, color singletons. This hypothesis was tested in the present study by having participants complete several succeeding trials of singleton search while simultaneously maintaining digits in working memory. The presence of task-irrelevant color singletons in the search array of a singleton search task led to increased response times, indicating attentional capture. However, the cost to response times associated with distractor presence did not increase under load on working memory, indicating that distractor interference may not be affected by load on working memory when task-irrelevant verbal information is maintained over an extended period of time. Individual differences in action video game playing and trait anxiety were considered and excluded as possible confounders.