The Effect of Perceptual Load on Attention-Induced Motion Blindness: The Efficiency of Selective Inhibition

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Recent visual marking studies have shown that the carry-over of distractor inhibition can impair the ability of singletons to capture attention if the singleton and distractors share features. The current study extends this finding to first-order motion targets and distractors, clearly separated in time by a visual cue (the letter X). Target motion discrimination was significantly impaired, a result attributed to the carry-over of distractor inhibition. Increasing the difficulty of cue detection increased the motion target impairment, as distractor inhibition is thought to increase under demanding (high load) conditions in order to maximize selection efficiency. The apparent conflict with studies reporting reduced distractor inhibition under high load conditions was resolved by distinguishing between the effects of “cognitive” and “perceptual” load.

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