Depth of nontarget processing in an attention task

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Two studies using 136 undergraduates examined the effect of the sensory discriminability of targets from nontargets on depth of nontarget processing. Ss shadowed target words that were binaurally presented with coincident nontarget words. Targets and nontargets were spoken in the same male voice under low sensory discriminability and in male and female voices, respectively, under high sensory discriminability. Across the 2 studies, depth of nontarget processing was assessed in 3 ways: extent to which shadowing accuracy was disrupted by a semantic overlap between targets and nontargets, expenditure of capacity (reaction time to subsidiary light signals), and nontarget recall. All 3 possible measures of depth of nontarget processing decreased as sensory discriminability increased. The data support the assumption of multiple-loci theories of attention that nontargets can be perceptually inhibited; they contraindicate the assumption of late-selection theories that perceptual processing is automatic and irrepressible. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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