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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Anna Grubert

Jenkins, M., Grubert, A. & Eimer, M. (2017). Target objects defined by a conjunction of colour and shape can be selected independently and in parallel. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 79(8): 2310-2326.

Author(s) from Durham


It is generally assumed that during search for targets defined by a feature conjunction, attention is allocated sequentially to individual objects. We tested this hypothesis by tracking the time course of attentional processing biases with the N2pc component in tasks where observers searched for two targets defined by a colour/shape conjunction. In Experiment 1, two displays presented in rapid succession (100 ms or 10 ms SOA) each contained a target and a colour-matching or shape-matching distractor on opposite sides. Target objects in both displays elicited N2pc components of similar size that overlapped in time when the SOA was 10 ms, suggesting that attention was allocated in parallel to both targets. Analogous results were found in Experiment 2, where targets and partially matching distractors were both accompanied by an object without target-matching features. Colour-matching and shape-matching distractors also elicited N2pc components, and the target N2pc was initially identical to the sum of the two distractor N2pcs, suggesting that the initial phase of attentional object selection was guided independently by feature templates for target colour and shape. Beyond 230 ms after display onset, the target N2pc became superadditive, indicating that attentional selection processes now started to be sensitive to the presence of feature conjunctions. Results show that independent attentional selection processes can be activated in parallel by two target objects in situations where these objects are defined by a feature conjunction.