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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Awareness of cue utility is important in producing the proportion valid effect, but conscious awareness is not Lanthier, Sophie Nicole


The present experiments investigated the mechanism responsible for the proportion valid cueing effect (i.e., the difference in response times between valid and invalid trials increases in magnitude as the proportion of valid trials increases) in the covert orienting paradigm. This proportion validity effect (PVE) is believed to reflect the involvement of volitional control of visual attention. However, more recently research has suggested that the PVE reflects a form of implicit learning (i.e., wherein associations, developed outside of awareness, between the cue and target location determine how attention is distributed, Seger, 1994). I tested between these two accounts of the PVE by determining whether being aware of a cue’s spatial utility influences the PVE using peripheral box cues (Experiment 1), central arrow cues (Experiment 2) and central non-directional shapes (i.e., cues that do not possess inherent directionality, Experiment 3). Critically, I manipulated whether participants were aware of the cue-target relations and determined whether this awareness influenced the PVE. Peripheral box cues produced a PVE that was independent and insensitive to participants' awareness of cue-target relations. On the other hand, central cues (i.e., both arrow cues and non-directional cues) produced PVEs that were sensitive to our manipulation of awareness regarding cue-target relations. However, central arrow cues produced a PVE that was independent of awareness, whereas non-directional cues produced a PVE that was dependent on awareness of cue-target relations. Taken together, the present studies have demonstrated that the awareness of the association between cues and target locations does contribute, under some circumstances, to the PVE. However, the extent to which the PVE is influenced by awareness of cue-target relations is dependent on the type of cue used to orient attention.

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