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Performance in a visual search task becomes more efficient if half of the distractors are presented before the rest of the stimuli. This "preview benefit" may partly be due to inhibition of the old (previewed) items. The preview effect is abolished, however, if the old items offset briefly before reappearing (D. G. Watson & G. W. Humphreys, 1997). The authors examined whether this offset effect still occurred if the old items undergo occlusion. Results show that a preview benefit was found when the old items were occluded but not otherwise, consistent with the idea of top-down attentional inhibition being applied to the old items. The preview benefit is attenuated, however, by movement of the irrelevant stimuli in the displays.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform

Publication Date





185 - 198


Adolescent, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Attention, Female, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Lighting, Male, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Reaction Time, Time Factors, Visual Fields