Researchers have studied contingent attentional capture for over two decades, and have characterized the behavioural effects; but a complete understanding of the neural mechanisms involved has yet to be developed. This thesis investigated the neural underpinnings of the cue-validity effect in the contingent capture paradigm. Recent research purported to show that observers inadvertently attend to irrelevant cue items that possess a task relevant feature (indexed by the ERP component, the N2pc), and then suppress the location of that cue item in order to respond to the target (indicated by the ERP component the PD, believed to index suppression). Experiment 1 determined whether the attended cue was in actuality suppressed; whereas, Experiment 2 determined how selection of the cue item affects higher stages of visual processing. Results showed that reaction time costs were due to extraneously cued nontarget information entering working memory, thus delaying target processing on invalid trials.
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Thesis advisor: McDonald, John J.
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