Diane Baier, Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, University of Vienna
Due to limited capacities in working memory, humans are not able to process all visual information they are confronted with. Visuospatial attention is a cognitive mechanism that serves as a filter to select relevant information for further processing, while irrelevant stimuli are ignored. Humans can deliberately guide spatial attention based on semantics (meaning of words), e.g., look to your left/right. To investigate the role of semantics in automatically guided attention (without deliberate control), we took three different approaches: Comparing semantic versus feature-based attention capture in (1) color search and (2) categorical search, as well as examining attention shifts initiated by the semantics of unconsciously perceived words (3). Our results showed overruling evidence for feature-based attentional guidance and yielded no proof for influences of semantics on visuospatial attention.