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Unexpected changes in direction of motion attract attention.

Authors
  • Howard, Christina J
  • Holcombe, Alex O
Type
Published Article
Journal
Attention Perception & Psychophysics
Publisher
Springer - Psychonomic Society
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2010
Volume
72
Issue
8
Pages
2087–2095
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/APP.72.8.2087
PMID: 21097853
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Under some circumstances, moving objects capture attention. Whether a change in the direction of a moving object attracts attention is still unexplored. We investigated this using a continuous tracking task. In Experiment 1, four grating patches changed smoothly and semirandomly in their positions and orientations, and observers attempted to track the orientations of two of them. After the stimuli disappeared, one of the two target gratings was queried and observers reported its orientation; hence direction of the gratings' motion across the screen was an irrelevant feature. Despite the irrelevance of its motion, when the nonqueried grating had collided with an invisible boundary within the last 200 msec of the trial, accuracy reporting the queried grating was worse than when it had not. Attention was likely drawn by the unexpected nature of these changes in direction of motion, since the effect was eliminated when the boundaries were visible (Experiment 2). This tendency for unexpected motion changes to attract attention has important consequences for the monitoring of objects in everyday environments.

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