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The distractor positivity (Pd) signals lowering of attentional priority: Evidence from event-related potentials and individual differences

Authors

  • Nicolas Burra,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Éducation, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    2. Geneva Neuroscience Center, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    • Address correspondence to: Nicolas Burra, Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Éducation, Université de Genève, 40 bd du Pont d'Arve, Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: nicolas.burra@unige.ch

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  • Dirk Kerzel

    1. Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Éducation, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
    2. Geneva Neuroscience Center, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
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  • The authors were supported by the Swiss National Foundation PDFM1-129459/1. We thank Caroline Barras, Selim Coll, Sarah Mesrobian, Amandine Perrenoud, and Eda Tipura for their excellent research assistance. Many thanks to Joël Billieux for helping us to find the French version of the CFQ.

Abstract

We investigated the effects of task demands and individual differences on the allocation of attention. Using the same stimuli, participants indicated the orientation of a line contained in a shape singleton (identification task) or the presence of singletons (detection task). Shape singletons in the identification task elicited a contralateral negativity (N2pc) whereas shape singletons in the detection task elicited a contralateral positivity (Pd). We suggest that the reduction of attentional priority of a salient stimulus, reflected by the Pd, occurred more rapidly with the less demanding detection task. Further, fewer distractible participants showed a larger N2pc to lateral color distractors than highly distractible participants. We suggest that highly distractible participants developed compensatory mechanisms to suppress distracting stimuli.

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