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Seminar: 10/12 - Irv Rock Memorial Lecture: Howard Egeth, Johns Hopkins University

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman Hall

Rock on! Top-down control of perceptual processing

Starting in the 1970s Irv Rock conducted an important series of studies on the effect of inattention on perceptual processing. He found, for example, that instructions to attend to items bearing one feature (e.g., green) often led subjects to fail to perceive items bearing another feature (e.g., red). I have been exploring such top-down effects on perceptual processing when observers must ignore non-target objects in order to accomplish task goals. I will report: (1) research on the ability to overcome attentional capture by salient singletons, (2) an unexpected inability to follow instructions to explicitly ignore a specific non-target property, and (3) electrophysiological evidence that attention-demanding tasks may, in some cases, be accomplished primarily by inhibitory processing of to-be-ignored stimuli rather than enhancement of to-be-attended stimuli.