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The influence of action requirements on action-centered selective attention Ibbotson, Jennifer A.

Abstract

We have a number of internal mechanisms that are used to effectively handle incoming information in order for proper functioning to occur. Selective attention is defined as " those mechanisms that enable complex perceptual information to be constrained to control specific actions" (Tipper, Lortie and Baylis, 1992 p. 891). A means of studying this selectivity is to have a person select and act on a target object in the presence of distractor objects - a situation often encountered in our daily interaction with the immediate environment. Tipper et al. (1992) have employed such methods to develop an action-centered model of selective attention, attempting to explain the interaction between objects in the environment and goal-directed action. In previous research examining predictions from an action-centered model of selective attention, the primary focus has been on how reaching movements to selected target objects are affected by the presence and spatial location of distractor objects. The purpose of the present experiments was to investigate the manner in which object and response selection are influenced by the nature of the required action and interaction with objects within a person's perceptual-motor workspace. Experiment One revealed that selective response preparation and execution was unaffected by manipulation of the engagement properties of the target and distractor objects. Experiment Two investigated how the end goal of the actions afforded by target and distractor objects might emphasize the action requirements and therefore influence the action. Despite a robust distractor effect, the engagement properties of target and distractor objects did not interact to influence action. Taken together, the present results suggest that a distractor object's action requirement is not a crucial determinant of its potential influence on attention and action.

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