A salient distractor does not disrupt conjunction search

Dominique Lamy*, Yehoshua Tsal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Leading theories of attention posit that bottom-up and top-down factors simultaneously affect attentional priority in visual search. Recent evidence, however, suggests that subjects may rely exclusively on top-down guidance when searching for a target defined by a specific known feature (Bacon & Egeth, 1994). In the present experiment, we addressed this issue in a conjunction search task. We investigated how searching for a green O among green Ts and red Os is affected by the presence of a distractor with a unique shape (green X), color (blue O), or both (blue X). We showed that the salient distractor does not disrupt performance on target-present trials, but produces a large interference on target-absent trials. We conclude that salience-based and top-down processes are alternative modes of guidance, rather than joint contributors in the allocation of attentional priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999


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