Abstract: Physically salient stimuli, such as uniquely colored objects, seem to have an inherent power to capture our attention, but formal research on this topic has produced conflicting results and theories. In the current talk, I will review evidence that the attentional capture debate can be resolved by positing a new suppressive process. This suppressive process can occur before attentional shifting to prevent salient items from attracting attention. Converging evidence supporting this model comes from studies of psychophysics, eye movements, and event-related potentials (ERPs). Crucially, the ability to inhibit salient distractors seems to be learned as participants gain experience with the simple features of the to-be-ignored stimuli.
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