Assessing the time course and magnitude of different forms of attentional priming

Árni Kristjánsson*, Ómar I. Jóhannesson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Priming of attentional selection involves speeded selection of task-relevant visual search items when search stimuli remain constant between trials. Various paradigms involving different features have been used to study the nature of this priming. The tasks differ greatly in difficulty and the neural mechanisms involved, raising the question of how easily priming on one feature dimension can be used to draw conclusions about priming on another. Here, this was addressed by contrasting time courses and relative sizes of priming effects for the repetition of a lower-level and higher-level feature (color vs. facial expression). Priming was tested in two odd-one-out search tasks, one involving discrimination (experiments 1A and 1B), the other a present/absent judgment (experiments 2A and 2B). The main question was how similar the size and temporal profiles of priming are for the two features. The sizes of the priming effects were very different for color and expression and color priming effects lasted for much longer than expression priming (measured with memory kernel analyses), suggesting that the mechanisms behind the effects differ in their operational principles. Different forms of priming should only be compared with great caution and priming seems to occur at many levels of processing. Priming should be thought of as a general principle of perceptual processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-544
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work is supported by the Icelandic Research Fund (grants #152427-051 & #173947-052) and the Research Fund of the University of Iceland.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Other keywords

  • priming
  • repetition effects
  • visual attention
  • visual perception
  • Humans
  • Attention
  • Repetition Priming
  • Reaction Time
  • Visual Perception


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