Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 1009–1023

Top-down and bottom-up attentional control: On the nature of interference from a salient distractor

  • Min-Shik Kim
  • Kyle R. Cave

DOI: 10.3758/BF03207609

Cite this article as:
Kim, MS. & Cave, K.R. Perception & Psychophysics (1999) 61: 1009. doi:10.3758/BF03207609


In two experiments using spatial probes, we measured the temporal and spatial interactions between top-down control of attention and bottom-up interference from a salient distractor in visual search. The subjects searched for a square among circles, ignoring color. Probe response times showed that a color singleton distractor could draw attention to its location in the early stage of visual processing (before a 100-msec stimulus onset asynchrony [SOA]), but only when the color singleton distractor was located far from the target. Apparently the bottom-up activation of the singleton distractor’s location is affected early on by local interactions with nearby stimulus locations. Moreover, probe results showed that a singleton distractor did not receive attention after extended practice. These results suggest that top-down control of attention is possible at an early stage of visual processing. In the long-SOA condition (150-msec SOA), spatial attention selected the target location over distractor locations, and this tendency occurred with or without extended practice.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min-Shik Kim
    • 1
  • Kyle R. Cave
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYonsei UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southampton, HighfieldSouthamptonUK

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