Does attention speed up processing? Decreases and increases of processing rates in visual prior entry

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Selective visual attention improves performance in many tasks. Among others, it leads to “prior entry”—earlier perception of an attended compared to an unattended stimulus. Whether this phenomenon is purely based on an increase of the processing rate of the attended stimulus or if a decrease in the processing rate of the unattended stimulus also contributes to the effect is, up to now, unanswered. Here we describe a novel approach to this question based on Bundesen's Theory of Visual Attention, which we use to overcome the limitations of earlier prior-entry assessment with temporal order judgments (TOJs) that only allow relative statements regarding the processing speed of attended and unattended stimuli. Prevalent models of prior entry in TOJs either indirectly predict a pure acceleration or cannot model the difference between acceleration and deceleration. In a paradigm that combines a letter-identification task with TOJs, we show that indeed acceleration of the attended and deceleration of the unattended stimuli conjointly cause prior entry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • Psychology
  • Cueing, Prior entry, TOJ, TVA, Visual attention