Investigating priming, inhibition, and individual differences in visual attention

Publication Year:
2013
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Repository URL:
https://scholars.unh.edu/dissertation/714
Author(s):
Lechak, Jennifer
Tags:
Psychology; Cognitive
thesis / dissertation description
While much has been explored within the attentional control literature, questions still exist as to how attentional processing is modulated, and how different types of visual search paradigms can elucidate the underlying mechanisms involved in successful visual search. Throughout this dissertation, I will focus on the multifaceted aspects that come with the study of visual attention. After discussing visual attention I explore priming of pop out along two different dimensions. Specifically, using a rapid serial visual presentation design, I demonstrate that temporal and spatial priming interact along a similar mechanism. This result adds to the priming literature by demonstrating simultaneous multidimensional priming in our ability to efficiently process our visual environment. Next, I explore attentional distraction and psychophysical thresholds to examine whether an individual's sensitivity to a visual feature can predict the individual's magnitude of distraction by that feature. Results reveal that psychophysical thresholds are not sensitive enough to reflect a definite relationship between an individual's baseline stimulus-driven sensitivity to visual features and the magnitude of distraction by those features. Finally, I explore the role of inhibition (using a stop signal paradigm) in individual differences in abilities to avoid distraction, and examine how working memory capacity influences target selection. Results failed to elucidate this relationship and further research is needed to uncover whether individual differences in avoiding distraction are subserved by either inhibitory processing, or working memory capacity. In conclusion, this dissertation uses various visual search paradigms to explore the interactions of stimulus-driven and goal-driven effects, to illuminate how individual differences inform models of attentional distraction, and to investigate how inhibiting a distractor modulates attentional processing.