Breaching the input filter: distracter – target similarity and its effect on the P300 and N2pc

Ades, Angus (2012). Breaching the input filter: distracter – target similarity and its effect on the P300 and N2pc Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ades, Angus
Thesis Title Breaching the input filter: distracter – target similarity and its effect on the P300 and N2pc
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-10
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Ross Cunnington
Total pages 45
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Observations of serious perceptual failures occurring in the absence of any external stimuli but while, so called ‘lost in thought’, are common. These have led to speculation that perceptual deficits occur due to irrelevant distracters occupying cognitive resources at the expense of task relevant targets, thereby inhibiting target consolidation and conscious perception. A potential theoretical framework underlying this phenomenon is the visual information processing theory proposed by Visser (1999) which posits an endogenously set input filter controls the access of pre-attentive information to cognitive resources for conscious perception. The purpose of the current study is to test the predictions of this model by examining two ERP waveforms (P300 and N2pc) using electroencephalography (EEG). Nineteen participants viewed a rapid serial visual presentation stream of distracter items prior to the appearance of a target/non target choice task or blank screen. Distracters were of either high (numbers) or low (dots) similarity to the target. Analysis of results indicates that despite significant differences in amplitude and latency of the P300 component, indicating the ability of high similarity distracters to occupy cognitive resources, no difference in attentional selection as measured by N2pc onset was observed. This indicates that attentional selection of target stimuli is unaffected by the cognitive load that the processing of high similarity distracters entails. This indicates that the attentional deficits observed in ‘lost in thought’ instances of distraction are unlikely to be due solely to the occupation of cognitive resources by internal processes and suggests the Visser information processing account may be need extension.
Keyword Perceptual deficits
Irrelevant distracters occupying cognitive resources
Inhibition of target consolidation

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Created: Tue, 19 Feb 2013, 15:51:05 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology