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Variation in target and distractor heterogeneity impacts performance in the centroid task.

  • Author(s): Lu, Vivian T
  • Wright, Charles E
  • Chubb, Charles
  • Sperling, George
  • et al.

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In a selective centroid task, the participant views a brief cloud of items of different types-some of which are targets, the others distractors-and strives to mouse-click the centroid of the target items, ignoring the distractors. Advantages of the centroid task are that multiple target types can appear in the same display and that influence functions, which estimate the weight of each stimulus type in the cloud on the perceived centroid for each participant, can be obtained easily and efficiently. Here we document the strong, negative impact on performance that results when the participant is instructed to attend to target dots that consist of two or more levels of a single feature dimension, even when those levels differ categorically from those of the distractor dots. The results also show a smaller, but still observable decrement in performance that results when there is heterogeneity in the distractor dots.

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