TOP DOWN EXPECTATIONS GOVERN ATTENTIONAL ALLOCATION TOWARDS DISTRACTOR LOCATIONS

  • Aya Lahav
  • Yehoshua Tsal

Abstract

Failures of selective attention may be explained by the attentional white bear (AWB) hypothesis (Tsal & Makovski, 2006) maintaining that prior knowledge of distractor location causes attentional allocation to it. The AWB is demonstrated by embedding infrequent trials of two simultaneous dots among flanker trials. The dot at the expected distractor location is perceived as appearing before the dot at the expected empty location, indicating attentional allocation to expected distractor locations. A major requirement of the AWB hypothesis is that it occurs in a top down manner due to expectations. We devised a variation of the original AWB experiment which enabled us to differentiate between the top down and bottom up contributions. The results show that top down expectancies, which are a critical part of the AWB characterization, occur independently of bottom up contributions.

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