Appearance matters: Attentional orienting by new objects in the precueing paradigm
Five experiments examined whether the appearance of a new object is able to orient attention in the absence of an accompanying sensory transient. A variant of the precueing paradigm (Posner & Cohen, 1984) was employed in which the cue was the onset of a new object. Crucially, the
new object's appearance was not associated with any unique sensory transient. This was achieved by using the variant “annulus” procedure recently developed by Franconeri, Hollingworth, and Simons (2005). Results showed that unless observers had an attentional set explicitly biased
against onset, a validity effect was observed such that response times were shorter for targets occurring at the location of the new object relative to when targets occurred at the location of the “old” object. We conclude that new onsets do not need to be associated with a unique
sensory transient in order to orient attention.