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The role of prior exposure in the capture of attention by items in working memory

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The Biased Competition Model (BCM) suggests both top-down and bottom-up biases operate on selective attention (e.g., Desimone & Duncan, 1995). It has been suggested that top-down control signals may arise from working memory. In support, Downing (2000) found faster responses to probes presented in the location of stimuli held vs. not held in working memory. Soto, Heinke, Humphreys, and Blanco (2005) showed the involuntary nature of this effect and that shared features between stimuli were sufficient to attract attention. Here we show that stimuli held in working memory had an influence on the deployment of attentional resources even when: (1) It was detrimental to the task, (2) there was equal prior exposure, and (3) there was no bottom-up priming. These results provide further support for involuntary top-down guidance of attention from working memory and the basic tenets of the BCM, but further discredit the notion that bottom-up priming is necessary for the effect to occur.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Neurosciences, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK 2: Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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