Colour-specific differences in attentional deployment for equiluminant pop-out colours: evidence from lateralised potentials

Vincent Jetté Pomerleau, Ulysse Fortier-Gauthier, Isabelle Corriveau, Roberto Dell'Acqua, Pierre Jolicœur
International Journal of Psychophysiology 2014, 91 (3): 194-205
We investigated how target colour affected behavioural and electrophysiological results in a visual search task. Perceptual and attentional mechanisms were tracked using the N2pc component of the event-related potential and other lateralised components. Four colours (red, green, blue, or yellow) were calibrated for each participant for luminance through heterochromatic flicker photometry and equated to the luminance of grey distracters. Each visual display contained 10 circles, 1 colored and 9 grey, each of which contained an oriented line segment. The task required deploying attention to the colored circle, which was either in the left or right visual hemifield. Three lateralised ERP components relative to the side of the lateral coloured circle were examined: a posterior contralateral positivity (Ppc) prior to N2pc, the N2pc, reflecting the deployment of visual spatial attention, and a temporal and contralateral positivity (Ptc) following N2pc. Red or blue stimuli, as compared to green or yellow, had an earlier N2pc. Both the Ppc and Ptc had higher amplitudes to red stimuli, suggesting particular selectivity for red. The results suggest that attention may be deployed to red and blue more quickly than to other colours and suggests special caution when designing ERP experiments involving stimuli in different colours, even when all colours are equiluminant.

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