Role of attentional tags in working memory-driven attentional capture

Chun-Yu Kuo, Hsuan-Fu Chao
Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance 2014, 40 (4): 1301-7
Recent studies have demonstrated that the contents of working memory capture attention when performing a visual search task. However, it remains an intriguing and unresolved question whether all kinds of items stored in working memory capture attention. The present study investigated this issue by manipulating the attentional tags (target or distractor) associated with information maintained in working memory. The results showed that working memory-driven attentional capture is a flexible process, and that attentional tags associated with items stored in working memory do modulate attentional capture. When items were tagged as a target, they automatically captured attention; however, when items were tagged as a distractor, attentional capture was reduced.

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