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Contributions of gains and losses to attentional capture and disengagement: evidence from the gap paradigm
Experimental Brain Research  (IF1.972),  Pub Date : 2021-09-08, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-021-06210-9
Zhuang, Ran, Tu, Yanyan, Wang, Xiangzhen, Ren, Yanju, Abrams, Richard A.

It is known that movements of visual attention are influenced by features in a scene, such as colors, that are associated with value or with loss. The present study examined the detailed nature of these attentional effects by employing the gap paradigm—a technique that has been used to separately reveal changes in attentional capture and shifting, and changes in attentional disengagement. In four experiments, participants either looked toward or away from stimuli with colors that had been associated either with gains or with losses. We found that participants were faster to look to colors associated with gains and slower to look away from them, revealing effects of gains on both attentional capture and attentional disengagement. On the other hand, participants were both slower to look to features associated with loss, and faster to look away from such features. The pattern of results suggested, however, that the latter finding was not due to more rapid disengagement from loss-associated colors, but instead to more rapid shifting of attention away from such colors. Taken together, the results reveal a complex pattern of effects of gains and losses on the disengagement, capture, and shifting of visual attention, revealing a remarkable flexibility of the attention system.