Attention capture occurs when a stimulus event involuntarily recruits attention. The abrupt appearance of a new object is perhaps the most well-studied attention-capturing event, yet there is debate over the root cause of this capture. Does a new object capture attention because it involves the creation of a new object representation or because its appearance creates a characteristic luminance transient? The present study sought to resolve this question by introducing a new object into a search display, either with or without a unique luminance transient. Contrary to the results of a recent study (Davoli, Suszko, & Abrams, 2007), when the new object's transient was masked by a brief interstimulus interval introduced between the placeholder and search arrays, a new object did not capture attention. Moreover, when a new object's transient was masked, participants could not locate a new object efficiently even when that was their explicit goal. Together, these data suggest that luminance transient signals are necessary for attention capture by new objects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems
- Linguistics and Language