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Publication Date

January 2012


Is the effect of distractors in multiple object tracking dependent on the distractors sharing the features of the targets? In experiment 1, observers tracked five targets among five distractors that were identical to the targets and a number of additional distractors that were either identical to or featurally distinct from the targets. Results showed that distractors that are distinct from the targets in shape or color, or are stationary, impair tracking less than distractors that are identical to the targets. However, tracking performance declined as the number of distractors increased, even for featurally distinct distractors. Experiment 2 showed that distractors that differ from the targets on two features impair tracking less than distractors that differ from the targets on only one feature, but only when target tracking load is low. These results indicate that shape, color, and motion information about distractors can be used to distinguish them from targets during tracking, although even distractors with a different feature from the targets produce some interference with tracking. These findings suggest that the effect of distractors on tracking is dependent on top – down settings for target features.


Copyright © 2012 Pion Ltd..The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Perception, volume 41, issue 3, pages 287-304, 2012,

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