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Liesefeld, Heinrich René ORCID: 0000-0003-4551-8607; Liesefeld, Anna Marie; Töllner, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0001-5399-9952; Müller, Hermann J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4774-5654 (1. August 2017): Attentional capture in visual search. Capture and post-capture dynamics revealed by EEG. In: NeuroImage, Vol. 156: pp. 166-173
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Abstract

Sometimes, salient-but-irrelevant objects (distractors) presented concurrently with a search target cannot be ignored and attention is involuntarily allocated towards the distractor first. Several studies have provided electrophysiological evidence for involuntary misallocations of attention towards a distractor, but much less is known about the mechanisms that are needed to overcome a misallocation and re-allocate attention towards the concurrently presented target. In our study, electrophysiological markers of attentional mechanisms indicate that (i) the distractor captures attention before the target is attended, (ii) a misallocation of attention is terminated actively (instead of attention fading passively), and (iii) the misallocation of attention towards a distractor delays the attention allocation towards the target (rather than just delaying some post-attentive process involved in response selection). This provides the most complete demonstration, to date, of the chain of attentional mechanisms that are evoked when attention is misguided and recovers from capture within a search display.