Altering attentional control settings causes persistent biases of visual attention

Knight, Helen, Smith, Daniel, Knight, David and Ellison, Amanda (2015) Altering attentional control settings causes persistent biases of visual attention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69 (1). pp. 129-149. ISSN 1747-0218

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Abstract

Attentional control settings have an important role in guiding visual behaviour. Previous work within cognitive psychology has found the deployment of general attentional control settings can be modulated by training. However, research has not yet established whether long-term modifications of one particular type of attentional control setting can be induced. To address this, we investigated persistent alterations to Feature Search Mode, also known as an attentional bias, towards an arbitrary stimulus in healthy participants. Subjects were biased towards the colour green by an information sheet. Attentional bias was assessed using a change detection task. After an interval of either 1 or 2 weeks participants were then either re-tested on the same change detection task, tested on a different change detection task where colour was irrelevant, or were biased towards an alternative colour. One experiment included trials in which the distracter stimuli (but never the target stimuli) were green. The key finding was that green stimuli in the second task attracted attention, despite this impairing task performance. Furthermore, inducing a second attentional bias did not override the initial bias toward green objects. The attentional bias also persisted for at least two weeks. It is argued that this persistent attentional bias is mediated by a chronic change to participants attentional control settings, which is aided by long-term representations involving contextual cuing. We speculate that similar changes to attentional control settings and continuous cuing may relate to attentional biases observed in psychopathologies. Targeting these biases may be a productive approach to treatment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology on 13th May 2015, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17470218.2015.1031144
Subjects: Psychology > Cognitive Behaviour
Psychology > Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Helen Knight
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2017 13:17
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2017 13:18
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/7298

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