Attentional and oculomotor capture by onset, luminance and color singletons

David E. Irwin, Angela M. Colcombe, Arthur F. Kramer, Sowon Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In three experiments we investigated whether attentional and oculomotor capture occur only when object-defining abrupt onsets are used as distractors in a visual search task, or whether other salient stimuli also capture attention and the eyes even when they do not constitute new objects. The results showed that abrupt onsets (new objects) are especially effective in capturing attention and the eyes, but that luminance increments that do not accompany the appearance of new objects capture attention as well. Color singletons do not capture attention unless subjects have experienced the color singleton as a search target in a previous experimental session. Both abrupt onsets and luminance increments elicit reflexive, involuntary saccades whereas transient color changes do not. Implications for theories of attentional capture are discussed. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1458
Number of pages16
JournalVision Research
Issue number10-12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2000


  • Attention
  • Reaction time
  • Saccadic eye movements
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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