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What determines what we pay attention to?

Top down goals - voluntary, driven by goals
look at where you expect something o be
signal from frontal/higher regions

Bottom up - non-goal directed, involuntary
signal coming from bottom of brain stream
stimulus driven


Why is attention sometimes top down and sometimes bottom up?

Biased competition theory - have both top down and bottom up mechanisms, but fight to win attention. The one which wins is the one with the strongest stimuli


What stimulus captures our attention?

Stimuli of high salience
movement/abrupt onset
things relevant to us/our values
or none?


What does salient colour singletons mean?

How much something differs from surroundings in terms of colour, shape and size - the odd one out


Theeuwes 1992 - singleton attentional capture task

Colour is irrelevant to the task so there should be no interference, all influences should be top down - only looking at shape. But colour singleton increases RT so complete top down not possible


Stimulus driven selection model - Theeuwes

Bottom up before top down
first stage:
initially sweep of visual field, all bottom up
calculation of local salience - create a map (what stand out)
attention is drawn to location with highest feature contrast/salience

second stage:
if selected item that isn't a target, inhibit location
attention then shifts to next most salient thing

salience - select salient item - is this what I was looking for? Yes = output, no = go back to beginning


Can colour be irrelevant if task is defined by shape?

Bacon and egeth - even though colour was irrelevant, it was still a singleton, so participants adopt a search for singleton strategy, therefore singleton colour is relevant to our goals


New experiment where the target is no longer the singleton

Colour interference no longer there. if it is true that attention is always stimulus driven, colour should've captured attention


Theeuwes response in 2004 to bacon and egeth

Took 10 years for him to respond to this
Bacon's task reduced salience of singleton, so not really one that stands out
Made a new experiment, including new shapes, area of dissimilarity
Colour singleton does interfere when target non singleton if local salience is maintained


Contingent capture - folk and Remington

Complete opposite to Theewes model
Attention capture isn't stimulus driven, it is only captured by stimuli relevant to our goals.. but relevance may not always be obvious
If attention is driven by what you didn't want to attend to, doesn't mean it is stimulus driven, could be a side effect of goals (looking for a taxi, seeing a yellow sign)


Testing the contingent capture task

Spatial cueing - looking for a target, valid or invalid cues. Target defined by onset or colour, cue defined by onset or colour

Results: invalid cues produce slower RT's but this was contingent on task. Colour cues capture attention when target defined by colour, onset cues capture attention if defined by onset, but not vice versa


What is an abrupt onset?

Something which suddenly appears


Another theory of attention - onsets

only abrupt onsets can produce stimulus driven capture
singleton not predictive of target location and could be either colour singleton or onset. onsets produced attentional capture but colour singletons didn't


Why are abrupt onsets important?

Evolution - detecting danger so need to respond quickly
Mooning or looming stimuli can capture attention but receding stimuli don't


Argument against stimulus driven capture

Even though onsets capture our attention, doesn't mean it isn't in accordance to our goals. Attention tasks usually begin with some kind of change to the display (colour task onset/offset). This may induce display wide settings for dynamic changes.. including onset
hard to think of experiments not involving change to the display


What other reasons are there for attention being captured?

Personal relevance - Andy field - spider phobias showed attentional bias to spiders, dr who fans showed capture by dr who images
Familiarity/expertise - experts in American football faster to notice changes to football related images, expect musicians more distracted by musical instruments
Value - training phase: present colour, distractor associated with reward
Test: present colour previously associated with a reward, stimuli previously associated with reward distracts attention