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The nature of Garner interference: The role of uncertainty, information, and variation in the breakdown in selective attention

Niv, L; Moran, R; Algom, D; (2022) The nature of Garner interference: The role of uncertainty, information, and variation in the breakdown in selective attention. Cognition , 218 , Article 104950. 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104950. (In press).

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Abstract

The popular measure of Garner Interference specifies the detriment to performance with the task-relevant attribute in the presence of a randomly varying distractor. But is irrelevant variation per se responsible for this breakdown of selective attention as the traditional account suggests? In this study we identified an overlooked alternative account – increased irrelevant information – which threatens the validity of the variation interpretation. We designed a new condition within the Garner paradigm, Roving Baseline, which allowed for dissociating the separate and combined contributions of information and variation at both macro and micro levels of analysis. A third account, increased number of stimuli or stimulus uncertainty, was also considered as well as the rival interpretations of configural processing and change detection. Our conceptual assay was complemented by a pair of dedicated experiments that included the novel Roving Baseline condition. The results of the theoretical analysis and of the experiments converged on supporting variability as the source of Garner interference. We found no evidence for an influence of information or of stimulus uncertainty. Our study thus adds further support for W. R. Garner's original intuition when designing the paradigm and the interference bearing his name.

Type: Article
Title: The nature of Garner interference: The role of uncertainty, information, and variation in the breakdown in selective attention
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104950
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104950
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social Sciences, Psychology, Experimental, Psychology, Garner-interference, Information, Distractors, Stimulus uncertainty, EMERGENT FEATURES, STIMULUS DIMENSIONS, BASIC FEATURES, INTEGRALITY, SEPARABILITY, PERCEPTION, SERIAL, DISCRIMINABILITY, CLASSIFICATION, ACTIVATION
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10139905
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