What is it about?

Eye-catching visual items can be distracting if they are unhelpful for the observer's task. For example, a pop-up advertisement window can disrupt you from browsing a webpage. Previous research suggests that people are able to actively ignore salient-irrelevant items as long as they appear in a specific and expected defining feature (e.g., color). Our study showed that people are also capable of ignoring salient items in unpredictable colors.

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Why is it important?

Distractions in everyday life are barely predictable. If, according to existing research, that people are only able to specifically ignore salient visual inputs that have an expected appearance, such ability cannot practically shield people from distractions and would seem futile to exist. Our study for the first time demonstrated the flexibility of the visual system in perceptually down-weighting the saliency of unknown visual inputs. The discovery of such capacity in humans demonstrates our behavioral adaptation to the unpredictability in the real world.

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This page is a summary of: Ignoring the unknown: Attentional suppression of unpredictable visual distraction., Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance, October 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/xhp0001067.
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