Experience-dependent attentional tuning of distractor rejection

Psychon Bull Rev. 2012 Oct;19(5):871-8. doi: 10.3758/s13423-012-0280-4.


Irrelevant salient distractors often capture attention, but given a sufficiently specific search template, these salient items no longer capture attention. In the present experiments, we investigated whether specific target templates are sufficient to resist capture, or whether experience with the salient distractors is also necessary. To test this hypothesis, observers completed four blocks of trials, each with a different-colored irrelevant singleton present on half of the trials. Color singletons captured attention early within a block, but after sufficient experience with the irrelevant singletons, those singletons no longer captured attention in the second halves of the blocks. This result suggests that to resist capture, a specific target template must be accompanied by experience-dependent attentional tuning to distractor properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Color Perception
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Reaction Time