The same-location cost is unrelated to attentional settings: An object-updating account

Tomer Carmel, Dominique Lamy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


What mechanisms allow us to ignore salient yet irrelevant visual information has been a matter of intense debate. According to the contingent-capture hypothesis, such information is filtered out, whereas according to the salience-based account, it captures attention automatically. Several recent studies have reported a same-location cost that appears to fit neither of these accounts. These showed that responses may actually be slower when the target appears at the location just occupied by an irrelevant singleton distractor. Here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying this same-location cost. Our findings show that the same-location cost is unrelated to automatic attentional capture or strategic setting of attentional priorities, and therefore invalidate the feature-based inhibition and fast attentional disengagement accounts of this effect. In addition, we show that the cost is wiped out when the cue and target are not perceived as parts of the same object. We interpret these findings as indicating that the same-location cost has been previously misinterpreted by both bottom-up and top-down theories of attentional capture. We propose that it is better understood as a consequence of object updating, namely, as the cost of updating the information stored about an object when this object changes across time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465-1478
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Attentional capture
  • Fast disengagement
  • Feature-based inhibition
  • Object files
  • Selective attention


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