Effects of dividing attention during encoding on perceptual priming of unfamiliar visual objects

Anja Soldan, Jennifer A. Mangels, Lynn A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to the distractor-selection hypothesis (Mulligan, 2003), dividing attention during encoding reduces perceptual priming when responses to non-critical (i.e., distractor) stimuli are selected frequently and simultaneously with critical stimulus encoding. Because direct support for this hypothesis comes exclusively from studies using familiar word stimuli, the present study tested whether the predictions of the distractor-selection hypothesis extend to perceptual priming of unfamiliar visual objects using the possible/impossible object decision test. Consistent with the distractor-selection hypothesis, Experiments 1 and 2 found no reduction in priming when the non-critical stimuli were presented infrequently and non-synchronously with the critical target stimuli, even though explicit recognition memory was reduced. In Experiment 3, non-critical stimuli were presented frequently and simultaneously during encoding of critical stimuli; however, no decrement in priming was detected, even when encoding time was reduced. These results suggest that priming in the possible/impossible object decision test is relatively immune to reductions in central attention and that not all aspects of the distractor-selection hypothesis generalise to priming of unfamiliar visual objects. Implications for theoretical models of object decision priming are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-895
Number of pages23
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Divided attention
  • Perceptual priming
  • Possible and impossible figures
  • Unfamiliar objects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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