There is an ongoing debate as to whether prioritizing new elements over old elements in visual search (the so-called preview benefit) is the result of top-down inhibition of old objects (i.e., visual marking; Watson & Humphreys, 1997, 1998, 2000; Kunar, Humphreys and Smith, in press) or attentional capture by new elements (Donk & Theeuwes, 2001). The present experiment shows a preview benefit when there are no old elements and there is nothing to inhibit. Participants viewed multi-element displays while a subset of elements was briefly flashed. Participants prioritized flashed elements over non-flashed elements, showing results similar to visual marking. Our results provide evidence that the preview benefit in visual search is the result of attentional capture by luminance transients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems