ERIC Number: EJ792591
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Attentional Resources in Visual Tracking through Occlusion: The High-Beams Effect
Flombaum, Jonathan I.; Scholl, Brian J.; Pylyshyn, Zenon W.
Cognition, v107 n3 p904-931 Jun 2008
A considerable amount of research has uncovered heuristics that the visual system employs to keep track of objects through periods of occlusion. Relatively little work, by comparison, has investigated the online resources that support this processing. We explored how attention is distributed when featurally identical objects become occluded during multiple object tracking. During tracking, observers had to detect small probes that appeared sporadically on targets, distracters, occluders, or empty space. Probe detection rates for these categories were taken as indexes of the distribution of attention throughout the display and revealed two novel effects. First, probe detection on an occluder's surface was better when either a target or distractor was currently occluded in that location, compared to when no object was behind that occluder. Thus even occluded (and therefore invisible) objects recruit object-based attention. Second, and more surprising, probe detection for both targets and distractors was always better when they were occluded, compared to when they were visible. This new "attentional high-beams" effect indicates that the ability to track through occlusion, though seemingly effortless, in fact requires the active allocation of special attentional resources.
Descriptors: Cognitive Processes, Attention, Psychomotor Skills, Heuristics, Visual Stimuli, Perception
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A