Contingent attentional capture by conceptually relevant images

Brad Wyble, Charles Folk, Mary C. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Attentional capture is an unintentional shift of visuospatial attention to the location of a distractor that is either highly salient, or relevant to the current task set. The latter situation is referred to as contingent capture, in that the effect is contingent on a match between characteristics of the stimuli and the task-defined attentional-control settings of the viewer. Contingent capture has been demonstrated for low-level features, such as color, motion, and orientation. In the present paper we show that contingent capture can also occur for conceptual information at the superordinate level (e.g., sports equipment, marine animal, dessert food). This effect occurs rapidly (i.e., within 200 ms), is a spatial form of attention, and is contingent on attentional-control settings that change on each trial, suggesting that natural images can be decoded into their conceptual meaning to drive shifts of attention within the time course of a single fixation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-871
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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