Thesis

Implicit Associations Between Achromatic Cues and Spatial Attention

Random events seen within our external environment, when repeated, tend to exhibit statistical regularity. Past research suggests both bottom-up and top-down mechanisms are involved in the documented relation between spatial attention and emotion. Research also suggests the same for achromatic perception and emotion. In this study, we investigated potential low-level behavioral mechanisms underling the relation between achromatic perception (e.g. black and white) and vertical spatial attention (e.g. bottom and top). Thirty participants were tested in a spatial configuration search task that was programmed using the computer software program MATLAB. The task was to locate a single target "T" amongst twelve distracter "Ls". The background (e.g. black and white) and location of the target (e.g. top and bottom of the display) varied trial to trial. Results show a significant interaction between the background color and target location in terms of reaction time, F(1, 29) = 15.57, p = .001, partial η2 = .35. Participants were significantly faster in identifying a bottom target when cued with a black screen compared to a white screen. Participants were also faster in identifying a top target when cued with a white screen compared to a black screen. There were also significant main effects of location, F(1, 29) = 5.59, p = .025, partial η2 = .16, but not of background, F(1, 29) = 2.44, p = .129, partial η2 = .08. In order to follow up on these significant findings, a second experiment was conducted in order to separate the co-occurrence of the black and white backgrounds from the visual search task, which returned no significant findings. Theoretical implications are discussed as well as future directions that are in line for the next phase of data collection. Taken together, these results suggest an implicit relationship between achromatic perception and vertical spatial attention. Keywords: Visual & Spatial Attention, Statistical Regularities, Achromatic Perception, Natural Scene Statistics

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