ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (1): 28-35.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00028

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 Self association facilitates attentional inhibition in human visual search

 LI Yangzhuo1; QIAN Haoyue1; ZHU Min2; GAO Xiangping1   

  1.  (1 Department of Psychology, School of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China) (2 Law School, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing 211800, China)
  • Received:2017-05-08 Published:2018-01-25 Online:2017-11-28
  • Contact: GAO Xiangping, E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  The stimuli newly associated with the self are apt to gain perceptual saliency and display advantages in attentional attraction. Another line of studies demonstrated that perceptual saliency could facilitate active suppression through a top-down control. Therefore, we hypothesize that, if the WM feature is to be suppressed voluntarily, self-associated stimuli was more easily inhibited compared with other information in the visual search task. In current study, participants first completed an associating learning task to form four pairs of color-label links (e.g., green-self, blue-stranger, red and yellow-neutral). Then, they took a Working Memory-guided visual search task in which they needed to search a target shape among several items. Before searching, participants were asked to memorize a specific color, which was one of the four colors used in the learning task. They were informed that items with this cue color were distractors in the search task. After the search task, participants were asked to recall the memorized cue color. The results showed the RTs of the search task were significantly shorter when the informed distracter color was self-associated compared with when the color was stranger-associated or neutral, no significant difference in searching time between stranger-associated color and neural color condition. Analyses of search accuracy and memory accuracy also revealed no significant difference across conditions. These results conformed the facilitation of search performance when the known distracters were in previously link to self, participants could inhibit the distracters more easily and search target more rapidly. To summarize, although valuable objects such as self-relevant information are attractive in nature, people often encounter situations where they would prefer to aviod such distraction while focusing on the task goal. The present study confirmed our hypothesis that the self-associated information was actively suppressed more easily and thus enhanced participants’ performance in visual research. These findings demonstrate a flexible role of learned self association on cognitive control.

Key words: self-related process, visual search, attention, active inhibition

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