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Curved reach trajectories have demonstrated that selective attention to possible targets narrows over time to the appropriate response and that the inhibition of distractors is slower than the facilitation of targets.
News From the Field 1437 cific feature (e.g., a red item among PERCEPTION AND ACTION Baldassi et al. (2009). Search superiority in other colored items) or for a color autism within, but not outside the crowding re- singleton (e.g., a unique-colored Reaching Toward the Goal gime. Vis Res, 49, 2151. item among uniform items). In a sub- Song & Nakayama (2009). Hidden cognitive Crewther & Sutherland (in press). The states revealed in choice reaching tasks. Trends more he looked inside, the more Piglet wasn’t sequent test session, the observers Cogn Sci, 13, 360. there: Is autism really blessed with visual searched through displays contain- hyperacuity? Biol Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/ ing, for example, a red target among Will the era of button pressing in j.biopsych.2009.02.036 uniform items. In these test displays, cognitive psychology ever end? Per- attention could be guided by either haps not, but a new surge of research People with autism have surpris- feature or singleton information. based on continuous measures of ingly good vision. For one thing, they To determine which attentional set behavior has found a voice in Song seem able to find simple geometric an observer used in the test session, and Nakayama’s recent review ar- shapes in complicated line drawings task-irrelevant distractors appeared ticle. Although eye movements have more rapidly than do normal observ- that would capture attention if they a long history of revealing cognitive ers (Shah & Frith, 1983, J Child Psy- matched the observer’s attentional mechanisms, the authors argue that chol Psychiatry 24:613). They also set. In Leber et al.’s study, the distrac- arm and hand movements can be even have unusually short reaction times tor, like the target, was a uniquely col- more illuminating because of their when visually searching for conjunc- ored item among uniform items. Ob- slower time course and longer dura- tions (Plaisted et al., 1998, J Child servers who searched using specific tion. As summarized in their review, Psychol Psychiatry 39:777) and feature information (e.g., red items) recent research has had much suc- unique features (O’Riordan, 2004, would have attention captured by red cess demonstrating concurrent pro- Autism 8:229). However, three new distractors but not by, say, green ones. cessing of multiple cognitive stages studies cast doubt on previous claims Observers who searched for color sin- through measurement of movement (Ashwin et al., 2009, Biol Psychiatry gletons would have attention captured trajectories. Curved reach trajecto- 65:17) of “eagle-eyed” acuity in au- by all singleton distractors—not only ries have demonstrated that selective tistic spectrum disorder. Two of them by red singletons. attention to possible targets narrows (Crewther & Sutherland, Bach & Not only did Leber et al. find that over time to the appropriate response Dakin) explain how a methodologi- attentional set was carried over from and that the inhibition of distrac- cal artifact must have contaminated training to the test trials, but the at- tors is slower than the facilitation of
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