More capture, more suppression: Distractor suppression due to statistical regularities is determined by the magnitude of attentional capture

Michel Failing*, Jan Theeuwes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Salient yet irrelevant objects often interfere with daily tasks by capturing attention against our best interests and intentions. Recent research has shown that through implicit learning, distraction by a salient object can be reduced by suppressing the location where this distractor is likely to appear. Here, we investigated whether suppression of such high-probability distractor locations is an all-or-none phenomenon or specifically tuned to the degree of interference caused by the distractor. In two experiments, we varied the salience of two task-irrelevant singleton distractors each of which was more likely to appear in one specific location in the visual field. We show that the magnitude of interference by a distractor determines the magnitude of suppression for its high-probability location: The more salient a distractor, the more it becomes suppressed when appearing in its high-probability location. We conclude that distractor suppression emerges as a consequence of the spatial regularities regarding the location of a distractor as well as its potency to interfere with attentional selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Volume27
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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