The effects of attention pre-allocation and target-background integration on object-based attention

Fengpei Hu, Changyong Jiao, Songpo Zhao, Huahua Dong, Xiao Liu, Yuji Yi, Jun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Object-based attention has been documented as an important mechanism with which to control attention in several studies. To date, two main hypotheses have been proposed to interpret object-based attention: attention spreading and prioritization of search. There is evidence that supports these hypotheses in the literature. In the present study, we sought to compare these two hypotheses systematically by manipulating two factors: the integration of the target and background and the presence of attention pre-allocation. For this purpose, we used a flanker task in which the location of the task-relevant target was fixed, but the relationship between the target and the background varied. In addition, attention pre-allocation was presented in only half of the conditions. The results revealed that the attention spreading hypothesis was supported only when attention was not pre-allocated and target-background integration was high; however, the prioritization hypothesis was supported in all other conditions. Our findings provide insight into the comparisons of the attention spreading and prioritization hypotheses. Furthermore, our findings suggest that attention resources may be the underlying factor determining appropriate strategy in the control of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0119414
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 19 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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