Rapid communication complex attentional control settings

Stacey E. Parrott, Brian R. Levinthal, Steven L. Franconeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The visual system prioritizes information through a variety of mechanisms, including "attentional control settings" that specify features (e.g., colour) that are relevant to current goals. Recent work shows that these control settings may be more complex than previously thought, such that participants can monitor for independent features at different locations (Adamo, Pun, Pratt, & Ferber, 2008). However, this result leaves unclear whether these control settings affect early attentional selection or later target processing. We dissociated between these possibilities in two ways. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to determine whether a target object, which was preceded by an uninformative cue, matched one of two target templates (e.g., a blue vertical object or a green horizontal object). Participants monitored for independent features in the same location, but in different objects, which should reduce the effectiveness of the control setting if it is due to early attentional selection, but not if it is due to later target processing. In Experiment 2, we removed the ability of the cue to prime the target identity, which makes the opposite prediction. Together, the results suggest that complex attentional control settings primarily affect later target identity processing, and not early attentional selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2297-2304
Number of pages8
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Attentional capture
  • Attentional control settings
  • Priming
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)


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