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The importance of top-down control in attentional inertia

Thompson, C, Pasquini, A and Hills, P The importance of top-down control in attentional inertia , in: Experimental Psychology Society July 2015 Meeting, 8th-10th July, Lincoln, UK. (Unpublished)

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Recent work shows that attention and visual search in one task can be influenced by the demands of a previous, unrelated task (e.g., Longman, Lavric, & Monsell, 2013; Thompson & Crundall, 2011; Thompson, Howting, & Hills, 2015). The current study investigated whether top-down information associated with a task could moderate the persisting settings from a preceding task. Participants completed a simple letter search and then viewed images of road scenes, nature scenes, and fractals. Eye movements to the images were analysed based on the layout of the initial letter search and it was predicted that carry-over of search behaviour would be greater when the images contained less semantic information (fractals). Horizontal search on the images was wider following a horizontal letter search, demonstrating carry-over, however this was not modulated by image-type. The results indicate that attentional inertia (Longman et al., 2013) is not affected by the top-down influences associated with a second task and is therefore a concern in many real-world situations. The findings align closely with models of attentional set switching and task switching that attribute the persistence of top-down settings to the investment of resources in a given task, rather than any difficulty in configuring new task settings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Catherine Thompson
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 14:03
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015 14:03

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