The nature of Garner interference: The role of uncertainty, information, and variation in the breakdown in selective attention

Lior Niv, Rani Moran, Daniel Algom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The popular measure of Garner Interference specifies the detriment to performance with the task-relevant attribute in the presence of a randomly varying distractor. But is irrelevant variation per se responsible for this breakdown of selective attention as the traditional account suggests? In this study we identified an overlooked alternative account – increased irrelevant information – which threatens the validity of the variation interpretation. We designed a new condition within the Garner paradigm, Roving Baseline, which allowed for dissociating the separate and combined contributions of information and variation at both macro and micro levels of analysis. A third account, increased number of stimuli or stimulus uncertainty, was also considered as well as the rival interpretations of configural processing and change detection. Our conceptual assay was complemented by a pair of dedicated experiments that included the novel Roving Baseline condition. The results of the theoretical analysis and of the experiments converged on supporting variability as the source of Garner interference. We found no evidence for an influence of information or of stimulus uncertainty. Our study thus adds further support for W. R. Garner's original intuition when designing the paradigm and the interference bearing his name.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104950
JournalCognition
Volume218
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Science FoundationISF-543-19
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft647070403019
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University

    Keywords

    • Distractors
    • Garner-interference
    • Information
    • Stimulus uncertainty

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'The nature of Garner interference: The role of uncertainty, information, and variation in the breakdown in selective attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this