Memory search following valid and invalid abrupt-onset cues

Donald Homa, Craig Newton, Donovan Terry, Scott Schafer, Ken Richter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The impact of abrupt-onset cues on memory search was investigated, where the abrupt-onset cue was a valid (Experiment 1), random (Experiment 2), or irrelevant (Experiment 3) predictor of the location containing the test probe. In Experiment 4, the abrupt-onset cue either preceded or followed the test probe. Stern berg-like functions were obtained in Experiments 1 and 2, with the effects of the abrupt-onset cue localized primarily in the intercept rather than the slope. Experiment 3 demonstrated that a spatially separated and irrelevant abrupt-onset cue increased latency even when all memory probes occurred at the fixation point. In Experiment 4, the robust impact of an abrupt-onset cue vanished, regardless of stimulus onset asynchrony, when it followed the target. We concluded that abrupt-onset cues captured attention regardless of their predictability, manifested as a delaying of search. However, once attention was captured by the target, a subsequent abrupt-onset stimulus had no effect. These results were discussed in terms of diffuse attention and contingent capture models of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-413
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Homa, D., Newton, C., Terry, D., Schafer, S., & Richter, K. (2007). Memory search following valid and invalid abrupt-onset cues. American Journal of Psychology, 120(3), 383-413.