The effect of feature discriminability on the intertrial inhibition of focused attention

Xiaoang Wan, Alejandro Lleras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identifying the shape of a colour oddball is faster when the distractor colour is viewed in the preceding target-absent trial and slower when the target colour is previewed, an intertrial effect known as the distractor previewing effect (DPE). We tested the effect of feature discriminability on the DPE. In Experiment 1, we determined the interitem discriminability of two colour pairs and two shape pairs. In Experiments 2 and 3, we measured DPEs with these set of target-distractor discriminability pairs. Our results showed that when the defining features allow for efficient parallel search, the a priori degree of interitem discriminability did not modulate the DPE. The results suggest the DPE does not arise as a strictly bottom-up modulation of saliency of the search-relevant features but reflects an attentional bias aimed at preventing attention from revisiting recently rejected "search features". The underlying mechanism of this attentional bias is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-944
Number of pages25
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Distractor previewing effect (DPE)
  • Feature discriminability
  • Focused attention
  • Inhibition
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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