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Providing participants with a preview of half the distractors in a visual search task facilitates performance. The present study examined the effects of secondary tasks on the preview benefit in search. Participants had to attend to a visual or an auditory stream of digits that began either (a) at the onset of the preview or (b) after the preview. Secondary tasks that onset with the preview disrupted the preview benefit irrespective of their modality. Only visual secondary tasks disrupted the benefit in the delayed condition. These selective interference effects suggest that the preview benefit can be fractionated into 2 components: an initialization component that involves modality-independent resources and a maintenance component that depends on visual resources. Results are discussed in relation to theoretical accounts of the preview benefit in search.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform

Publication Date





640 - 660


Adult, Attention, Color Perception, Discrimination Learning, Female, Humans, Male, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Practice, Psychological, Problem Solving, Psychophysics, Reaction Time