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Keywords:

  • Distractor-previewing effect (DPE);
  • Category-based inhibition;
  • Intertrial effects;
  • Attention shift;
  • N2pc

Abstract

The distractor previewing effect (DPE) refers to the behavioral phenomenon that search times increase for oddball targets containing features recently associated with the absence of a target. Previous work using a color-oddball search task showed that the DPE covaried with the N2pc component of the event-related potential (an index of attention allocation) but not with other components, suggesting that the DPE reflects shifts in attentional sets. We sought to determine whether the previous results could generalize to a category-oddball search task. Results showed that the DPE co-occurred with N2pc effects in about 60% of the participants, and the DPE occurred with no N2pc effects in the rest of the participants. These results support a domain-general, attention-based account of the DPE, but also suggest that the attention-based DPE account requires some modifications.