Individual differences in the scope of spatial attention
56.316, Tuesday, May 14, 2:45 - 6:45 pm, Royal Ballroom 6-8
Kristin E. Wilson1, Justin Ruppel1, Matthew Lowe1, Mark Shaw1, Rayan Kosnik1, Jay Pratt1, Susanne Ferber1; 1Psychology, University of Toronto
Studies of spatial attention typically average effects across participants without considering individual differences in attentional scope. Individual differences in how attention is deployed and distributed may be associated with differences in visual working memory (VWM): individuals with smaller VWM capacity may attend to smaller regions of space. It is also possible that personality traits could be associated with attentional mode e.g., individuals high in openness may show a broader scope. We explored the relationship between the spatial distribution of attention, VWM capacity and personality through Inhibition of Return (IOR), a well-studied phenomenon characterized by a reaction time (RT) cost for targets at cued locations relative to targets at uncued locations. Important for the present study, IOR spreads beyond the cued location as the inhibition decreases as a function of distance from the cue (Bennett & Pratt, 2001). Participants also completed a measure of personality and VWM capacity, with the hypothesis that the spatial distribution of IOR would differ between individuals. On each trial of the IOR task, the cue was centred in one of four quadrants on the screen, which was followed by a target, appearing at varying distances from the cue (invisible grid composed of 11 x 11 spatial locations). The spatial distribution of IOR was determined for each individual by calculating the slope of the regression line between cue-target distance and RT (negative slope indicates faster RT with increase in distance). A steeper negative slope suggests efficient release from IOR and a more localized/focal IOR, whereas a shallow negative slope suggests more diffuse IOR. Our results show personality and VWM predict the slope/distribution of IOR, providing evidence of individual differences in the spatial distribution of IOR, which may result from differences in the allocation of attention to the cue.