Exploring the carry-over of top-down attentional settings in dynamic conditions

Thompson, C, Jalali, M and Hills, P.J (2023) 'Exploring the carry-over of top-down attentional settings in dynamic conditions.' Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. e174702182311550. ISSN 1747-0218

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/17470218231155018


A top-down attentional set can persist from a relevant task to an irrelevant task, influencing allocation of attentional resources, visual search, and performance. While this “carry-over” effect has been found across numerous experiments, past studies have utilised paradigms that present similar tasks to the same spatial location. The present research explored whether attentional settings persist in more dynamic situations. In Experiment 1, participants played a computer game that encouraged a horizontal, vertical, or random spread of search. After 10 or 30 s, they moved 90° to their right and monitored a driving video for hazards. Eye movements to the videos were not affected by the characteristics of the preceding game, revealing no carry-over of attentional settings. One possible explanation for this was the visuospatial shift between the tasks. To explore this further, Experiment 2 adopted a similar paradigm to previous research; participants searched horizontal, vertical, or random letter strings before completing an image search. In one block the tasks were presented to the same screen, and in one block the tasks were presented to different screens (incorporating a 90° visuospatial shift mid-trial). Carry-over was found in the one-screen block, with a significantly wider horizontal search and a narrower vertical search in the pictures after a horizontal letter search. However, there was no carry-over from the letter to the picture task in the two-screen block. This indicates the flexibility of attentional control in dynamic situations, and it is suggested that persistence of attentional settings will be most costly under stable conditions.

Item Type: Article
UN SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Keywords: top-down attentional set, set switching, attentional inertia, eye movements, attentional control
Divisions: School of Sciences
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/17470218231155018
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2023 17:39
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 17:39
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/15648
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