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Department of Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science Alumni

Paul Dux

Paul Dux

Thesis Details

Searching through time: Target and distractor processing in rapid serial visual presentation.

This thesis reports investigations into the mechanisms and processes involved in attending selectively to and reporting temporally distributed visual information. Chapter 1 reviews research on temporal attention, with an emphasis on studies that have employed rapid serial visual presentation(RSVP) methodology. Chapter 2 examines the fate of distractor stimuli that appear in close temporal proximity to targets in RSVP streams. Subjects were presented with a dual-target task in which the similarity of the items that appeared directly before and after Target 1 was manipulated. The presentation of a repeated distractor, directly after Target 1, attenuated the attentional blink. This reduction in blink magnitude depended on two critical conditions 1) the items flanking Target 1 had to be featurally identical and 2) the distractors had to be drawn from a different alphanumeric category to the targets. Chapter 3 investigates whether or not distractors interfere conceptually with targets in RSVP. Conceptual similarity of targets and distractors was manipulated via task instruction while visual characteristics of the stimuli were held constant. The attentional blink was attenuated when distractors were recognised as being members of a different alphanumeric category to the targets rather than members of the same category. Finally, in Chapter 4, the influence of colour differences between targets and distractors on repetition blindness is examined. Target similarity and target colour were manipulated in dual-target RSVP streams. Repetition advantage was observed when targets had the same colour as one another and differed in colour from the distractors, but only if subjects attended to the colour difference and the targets were episodically distinct. The studies demonstrate that when selecting information that is temporally distributed, our visual attentional system is dependent, at least to some extent, on featural and categorical changes in our environment, as well as on both the facilitation and inhibition of stimulus representations.

  • Type: PhD
  • Scholarship : APA
  • Supervisors : Associate Professor Veronika Coltheart (internal, Supervisor), Professor Max Coltheart (internal, Associate Supervisor) and Dr Irina Harris (internal, Associate Supervisor).

Further Information


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