Attentional effects on preattentive vision: Spatial precues affect the detection of simple features

Jan Theeuwes, Arthur F. Kramer, Paul Atchley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most accounts of visual perception hold that the detection of primitive features occurs preattentively, in parallel across the visual field. Evidence that preattentive vision operates without attentional limitations comes from visual search tasks in which the detection of the presence or absence of a primitive feature is independent of the number of stimuli in a display. If the detection of primitive features occurs preattentively, in parallel and without capacity limitations, then it should not matter where attention is located in the visual field. The present study shows that even though the detection of a red element in an array of gray elements occurred in parallel without capacity limitations, the allocation of attention did have a large effect on search performance. If attention was directed to a particular region of the display and the target feature was presented elsewhere, response latencies increased. Results indicate that the classic view of preattentive vision requires revision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-347
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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