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In two experiments, we examined whether one source of cross-dimensional interference in visual search involves cross-trial position priming. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated cross-dimensional interference in search for an orientation-defined target: Search for a left-tilted target among right-tilted non-targets was disrupted by the presence of a singleton color distractor. In all conditions, search was facilitated when a target was presented at the same position as a target in the previous trial (positive position priming). In addition, there were negative effects of position priming on orientation targets that fell on the same side as singleton distractors on the previous trial. In Experiment 2, to examine the impact of negative position priming on cross-dimensional interference, trials with and without singleton distractors were presented in a single trial block. The chance of a singleton distractor's being present on a preceding trial was then equated across displays when the distractor was and when it was not subsequently present. Cross-dimensional interference was eliminated under this mixed presentation condition, suggesting that the cost of cross-dimensional interference was not determined by the stimulus-driven factors in the current trial, at least when a limited number of target and distractor locations was used. We conclude that top-down selection is possible during visual search, and this leads to inhibition of the location of salient distractors. The cost of this is slowed detection of targets at inhibited locations on subsequent trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Percept Psychophys

Publication Date





493 - 503


Adult, Attention, Color Perception, Discrimination Learning, Female, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Male, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Psychophysics