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The effect of color and motion changes on attentional capture

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Some events attract our attention even when we are engaged in a task for which these events are irrelevant. Previous research on this kind of attentional capture focused mainly on spatial factors. It showed that onset of new objects are more salient in capturing attention than a sudden change in object features. The current study points to a temporal factor, over and above the importance of new objects. Two experiments show that feature changes capture attention as effectively as new objects provided that they occur during a period of temporal calm, where no other display changes occurred. The results show that this unique change hypothesis applies to changes in color, in motion and even to the sudden appearance of new objects. A third experiment examines the effect of mixing color changes with the sudden onsets. Under these conditions temporal calm is no longer a requirement for capture by color changes.

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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