Relative contributions of task-relevant and task-irrelevant dimensions in priming of pop-out

Audrey L. Michal, Alejandro Lleras, Diane M. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intertrial effects such as priming of pop-out (PoP) often occur for task-irrelevant dimensions as well as taskrelevant dimensions, though to a weaker extent. Here we test the hypothesis that increased priming for taskrelevant dimensions is due to greater passive build-up of priming for the task-relevant dimension rather than to an active filtering of task-irrelevant dimensions; if this is the case, then we should observe a positive correlation between the magnitude of task-relevant and taskirrelevant priming. We tested this hypothesis using a pop-out search task in which the task-relevant dimension was orientation and the task-irrelevant dimension was color. We found a strong, positive association between task-relevant and task-irrelevant priming across a large group of participants (N = 100); additionally, we observed increased priming over consecutive repetitions for the task-relevant dimension, whereas task-irrelevant priming was constant across multiple repetitions. As further evidence against an active filtering account, task-irrelevant priming showed no systematic relationship with visual short-term memory capacity, which has been shown to correlate with filtering ability. Together, our results suggest that task-irrelevant dimensions are co-selected rather than filtered out during target search. Further, increased taskrelevant priming may reflect an enhanced representation of the task-relevant dimension that is reinforced over consecutive repetitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014


  • Priming of pop-out
  • Task-relevance
  • Visual short term memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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