The attentional cost of feature-based inhibition: When ignoring distraction impairs selection

Andrews, Lucy Sarah (2011). The attentional cost of feature-based inhibition: When ignoring distraction impairs selection. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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The thesis investigates the inhibitory processes of visual selection across time. While distractor inhibition can improve current selection, this mechanism can also impair later selection when the new and important information shares features with the old inhibited information. I extend previous preview-based research (Braithwaite & Humphreys, 2003) to more ecologically valid dynamic circumstances. This work reveals that the cost of feature sharing is greatly magnified when items move, compared to when items remain static. These findings implicate a flexible inhibitory weighting system, where the featural aspects of a display become more heavily weighted upon as spatial aspects become less reliable. This strongly implicates feature-based inhibition in real-world failures of visual awareness. In addition, I extend the negative priming effect to conditions far more complex than previous research has suggested is possible. This not only improves its ecological validity, but also reveals a strong similarity between negative priming and inhibitory carry-over effects of preview search. This finding questions previous claims that these paradigms recruit separate processes, implicating an overlapping inhibitory mechanism. In all, the current thesis places feature-based inhibitory processing in a far more central role of guidance, selection and failures of visual awareness than previous research has suggested.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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