Effect of object onset on the distribution of visual attention

Cole, Geoff; Gellatly, Angus and Blurton, Anthony (2001). Effect of object onset on the distribution of visual attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(6) pp. 1356–1368.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.27.6.1356


There now exists considerable evidence to suggest that the appearance of a new object in the visual field captures visual attention. One of the consequences of this attentional capture is that the object initiates a redistribution of attentional resources across visual space. This is classically observed in the precuing paradigm in which the onset of an abrupt cue influences the processing of a subsequently presented target. The present research describes a new phenomenon that occurs as a result of a new object appearing in the visual field. A stimulus presented in a region of space adjacent to a comer of an onsetting object receives an enhancement of processing relative to a stimulus presented adjacent to one of the object's straight edges. With the use of 2 converging methods, evidence is presented that suggests that the effect is a higher order attentional phenomenon whereby greater resources become directed to the comers of objects.

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