Visual Marking: The Influence of Temporary Changes on Time-based Visual Selection

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The preview benefit describes the finding that participants can prioritize the selection of new stimuli by the top-down inhibition of previously presented (previewed) items already in the field (Watson & Humphreys, 1997). Previous work has shown that if the old items undergo a permanent shape change when the new are added, then the old items recompete for selection with the new—the preview benefit is abolished. This is adaptive because it would be useful to stop ignoring items which change in potentially important ways. In contrast, temporary or repeating changes might be much less behaviorally relevant than permanent changes. Accordingly, we examined the effect of temporary changes (Experiment 1) and repeating changes (Experiment 2). Overall, the results showed that temporary changes could be partially but not fully ignored, and ignoring repeating changes became more difficult as the number of repetitions increased. The findings are discussed in terms of attentional prioritization mechanisms, maintenance of inhibitory representations, and the ecological properties of time-based selection.

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