Flexible feature-based inhibition in visual search mediates magnified impairments of selection: evidence from carry-over effects under dynamic preview-search conditions.
Andrews LS., Watson DG., Humphreys GW., Braithwaite JJ.
Evidence for inhibitory processes in visual search comes from studies using preview conditions, where responses to new targets are delayed if they carry a featural attribute belonging to the old distractor items that are currently being ignored-the negative carry-over effect (Braithwaite, Humphreys, & Hodsoll, 2003). We examined whether inhibition was applied in the same manner across different types of displays or whether the inhibitory weighting applied to different features varied with their utility for the search task. To test this, we present the first empirical investigation of negative carry-over effects under the ecologically valid conditions of dynamic visual search. Experiment 1 investigated preview search using dynamic moving and static displays. Detection was very poor when new targets carried the color of the old distractors, and this negative carry-over effect was significantly exaggerated with moving, compared with static, displays. Experiments 2a and 2b demonstrated that this effect could not be attributed to an increased role of preattentive grouping between new and old items for dynamic displays. Collectively, the findings suggest that feature-based inhibition contributes strongly to preview search through dynamic displays, and this leads to an amplified attentional blindness to new targets. The data specifically indicate that inhibitory processes in search differentially weight color and location in moving and static displays, and that feature-based inhibition may underlie many instances of sustained inattentional blindness in everyday life.