Many theories assume that preknowledge of an upcoming target helps visual selection. In those theories, a top-down set can alter the salience of the target, such that attention can be deployed to the target more efficiently and responses are faster. Evidence for this account stems from visual search studies in which the identity of the upcoming target is cued in advance. In five experiments, we show that top-down knowledge affects the speed with which a singleton target can be detected but not the speed with which it can be localized. Furthermore, we show that these results are independent of the mode of responding (manual or saccadic) and are not due to a ceiling effect Our results suggest that in singleton search, top-down information does not affect visual selection but most likely does affect response selection. We argue that such an effect is found only when information from different dimensions needs to be integrated to generate a response and that this is the case in singleton detection tasks but not in other singleton search tasks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Sensory Systems
- Linguistics and Language