Contingent capture can occur at specific feature values: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence
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The notion that attentional top-down control can be tuned to a stimulus feature is widely accepted. Although previous studies suggested that the stimulus-driven attentional capture could be contingent on top-down attentional control settings, it was uncertain whether contingent capture can occur at a specific feature value. Three experiments were conducted to address this issue using both behavioral and ERPs measures. Participants were required to respond to one color singleton in the search display (target) but refrain from responding to the search display containing another color singleton (nontarget). When target and nontarget belonged to different color categories (Experiment 1), only the target-color cue and within category irrelevant-color cue elicited the significant cue validity effect (i.e. RTs were shorter when the target was presented at the same location as the preceding cue rather than at a different location); they also lead to a robust N2pc effect, indicative of attention-capture. In addition, these two cue types had similar attention-capturing capacity. However, when target and nontarget belonged to the same color category (Experiments 2 and 3), only the target-color cue elicited the significant cue validity effect and the robust N2pc effect. The same within category irrelevant-color cue no longer elicited the cue validity effect, and the N2pc effect was also attenuated. Present findings suggest that contingent capture can occur at a specific feature value.
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