Contingent visual marking by transients

Matthew S. Peterson, Artem V. Belopolsky, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Preview search is a phenomenon in which a set of new items can be searched with seemingly no interference from items already present in the display. The preview effect has been shown to occur only when the presentation of the new items is accompanied by a luminance change (Donk & Theeuwes, 2001). In a series of experiments, we extend the type of transients that can lead to a preview benefit to offsets and motion, and confirm Donk and Theeuwes's finding that equiluminant color changes do not lead to a preview effect. Like Donk and Theeuwes, we find that preview search does not occur when only the old items undergo a transient change, suggesting that the processes responsible for preview search are triggered when the new items undergo a change detectable by the magnocellular system. In addition, we find that irrelevant transients interfere with preview search only when they match the current attentional set (e.g., luminance change or motion). Results suggest that preview search is not the automatic capture of attention by transients, but rather is contingent on top-down control settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-710
Number of pages16
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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