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Non-transient luminance changes do not capture attention

Cole, Geoff G.; Kuhn, Gustav; Skarratt, Paul A.


Geoff G. Cole

Gustav Kuhn


The processing of luminance change is a ubiquitous feature of the human visual system and provides the basis for the rapid orienting of attention to potentially important events (e.g., motion onset, object onset). However, despite its importance for attentional capture, it is not known whether a luminance change attracts attention solely because of its status as a sensory transient or can attract attention at a relatively high cognitive level. In a series of six experiments, we presented visual displays in which a single object underwent a luminance change that was either visible or obscured by a mask. A target then appeared either at the change location or elsewhere. The results showed that the luminance change attracted attention only in the visible condition. This was even observed with the largest change we could generate (> 75 cd/m(2)). These data suggest that the importance of a luminance change is only in its status as a low-level sensory transient.


Cole, G. G., Kuhn, G., & Skarratt, P. A. (2011). Non-transient luminance changes do not capture attention. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 73(5), 1407-1421.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Apr 15, 2011
Publication Date Jul 1, 2011
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Attention Perception & Psychophysics
Print ISSN 1943-3921
Electronic ISSN 1943-393X
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 5
Pages 1407-1421
Keywords Vision Attention Motion Luminance Object onset change detection paradigm displaywide visual features change blindness object onset prioritizing selection koniocellular pathway chromatic gratings spatial-frequency target detection control settings, REF 201
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