What is it about?

Visual stimuli associated with value are found to attract attention, and can disrupt ongoing tasks when they are unhelpful to look at. We found that the attention-attracting power of rewarded stimuli is contingent on their spatial location. Only when appearing at a location that the observer actively attends to, can rewarded stimuli be distractive. However, when outside of the attended region, rewarded stimuli lose their power to bias attention.

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Why is it important?

In everyday life, we are often distracted by things that are rewarding to us but are unnecessary to look at in certain situations. For example, a cell phone on your workstation can secretly steal your attention from work. Our study found that the attention demand of rewarded items can be eliminated when placed outside of the relevant space of the ongoing task. This finding has implications for reducing potential distracting factors in visual scenes.

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This page is a summary of: Spatial task relevance modulates value-driven attentional capture, Attention Perception & Psychophysics, June 2022, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.3758/s13414-022-02530-2.
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