Shifting attention into and out of objects: Evaluating the processes underlying the object advantage
Visual cuing studies have been widely used to demonstrate and explore contributions from both object- and location-based attention systems. A common finding has been a response advantage for shifts of attention occurring within an object, relative to shifts of an equal distance between objects. The present study examined this advantage for within-object shifts in terms of engage and disengage operations within the object- and location-based attention systems. The rationale was that shifts of attention between objects require object-based attention to disengage from one object before shifting to another, something that is not required for shifts of attention within an object or away from a location. One- and two-object displays were used to assess object-based contributions related to disengaging and engaging attention within, between, into, and out of objects. The results suggest that the “object advantage” commonly found in visual cuing experiments in which shifts of attention are required is primarily due to disengage operations associated with object-based attention.