Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 79, Issue 8, pp 2338–2353 | Cite as

Knowing where is different from knowing what: Distinct response time profiles and accuracy effects for target location, orientation, and color probability

  • Syaheed B. Jabar
  • Alex Filipowicz
  • Britt Anderson


When a location is cued, targets appearing at that location are detected more quickly. When a target feature is cued, targets bearing that feature are detected more quickly. These attentional cueing effects are only superficially similar. More detailed analyses find distinct temporal and accuracy profiles for the two different types of cues. This pattern parallels work with probability manipulations, where both feature and spatial probability are known to affect detection accuracy and reaction times. However, little has been done by way of comparing these effects. Are probability manipulations on space and features distinct? In a series of five experiments, we systematically varied spatial probability and feature probability along two dimensions (orientation or color). In addition, we decomposed response times into initiation and movement components. Targets appearing at the probable location were reported more quickly and more accurately regardless of whether the report was based on orientation or color. On the other hand, when either color probability or orientation probability was manipulated, response time and accuracy improvements were specific for that probable feature dimension. Decomposition of the response time benefits demonstrated that spatial probability only affected initiation times, whereas manipulations of feature probability affected both initiation and movement times. As detection was made more difficult, the two effects further diverged, with spatial probability disproportionally affecting initiation times and feature probability disproportionately affecting accuracy. In conclusion, all manipulations of probability, whether spatial or featural, affect detection. However, only feature probability affects perceptual precision, and precision effects are specific to the probable attribute.


Perceptual learning Attention: space-based Attention: object-based 


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Syaheed B. Jabar
    • 1
  • Alex Filipowicz
    • 2
  • Britt Anderson
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Theoretical NeuroscienceUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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