Pre-cuing target location reduces interference but not negative priming from visual distractors.
Research on visual selective attention has shown that processing of distractors can produce (1) interference with response to a concurrent target, and (2) negative priming of response to a subsequent target. These results support late-selection accounts of attention. However, recent findings demonstrate that when conditions are optimal for attentional focusing, the interference effects are almost entirely eliminated. This result has been interpreted as supporting early-selection accounts. The present study investigates the impact of focusing attention on negative priming in addition to interference effects. In a letter-identification task, reliable interference and negative priming effects were observed from distractors. However, when the location of the target in the prime display was pre-cued, interference effects were significantly reduced, but negative priming effects did not decrease. This pattern of results provides further evidence that the absence of interference is insufficient to determine whether distractors have been semantically processed (Driver & Tipper, 1989).