Early perceptual selection refers to a sequence of perceptual processing in which attentional selection of stimuli occurs before perceptual processing is complete. By contrast, late perceptual selection refers to a sequence in which all stimuli receive complete perceptual processing before selection takes place. An attempt was made to determine if early selection is possible. Three experiments were conducted in which subjects were presented with arrays containing a variable number of red items and a variable number of black items; all array items were randomly positioned around the circumference of an imaginary circle. The subjects task was to report the number of red items. Response time increased with the number of red items, but was essentially independent of the number of black items. The nature of the red and black items was also varied. When the to-be-attended red items were given "Stroop-like" quality (the symbols that were used were directly inconsistent with the correct response for that trial), mean reaction time was increased compared to a baseline condition; when the to-be-ignored black items were given "Stroop-like" quality, mean reaction time was unaffected. These results imply that the relevant (red) and irrelevant (black) items were processed differentially. We conclude that early selection is possible; late-selection models are not supported.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems