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Visual search for featural singletons: No top-down modulation, only bottom-up priming

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The present study investigated the effect of top-down knowledge on search for a feature singleton (a “pop-out target”). In a singleton detection task, advance cueing of the dimension of upcoming singleton resulted in cueing costs and benefits (Experiment 1). When the search for the singleton stayed the same but only the response requirements were changed, advance cueing failed to have an effect (Experiments 2 and 3). In singleton search only bottom-up priming plays a role (Experiments 4 and 5). We conclude that expectancy-based, top-down knowledge cannot guide the search for a featural singleton. Bottom-up priming that does facilitate search for a featural singleton cannot be influenced by top-down control. The study demonstrates that effects often attributed to early top-down guidance may represent effects that occur later in processing or represent bottom-up priming effects.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13506280500195110

Affiliations: 1: Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2: Dresden University of Technology, Germany

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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