Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Deborah E Hannula

Committee Members

Sue D Lima, Christine L Larson, Ira Driscoll, Fred J Helmstetter


Attention Capture, Long-Term Memory, Retro-cue, Visual Search


Attention has traditionally been divided into a dichotomy, however mounting evidence suggests a third attention process is at work, one that shows attention capture because of previous experiences with a stimulus, not its physical properties. In line with this, items that have been paired with a rewarding or aversive outcome, items held in working memory, and items incidentally retrieved from long term memory have all been shown to capture attention in an obligatory fashion similar to bottom-up attentional processes. More recent work into how items in working memory capture attention, has demonstrated that items can attain a special status that is reflected by more brain activity and greater capture for a prioritized item than a non-prioritized item. We do not yet know how intentional retrieval or prioritization of information held in long term memory affects capture. Two experiments studied how attention capture by information retrieved from long term memory is affected by prioritization (Experiment 1) and whether capture effects change over time (Experiment 2). Based on studies of working memory and retro-cueing, it was expected that retrieval alone may not be enough to capture attention, but that information must also be prioritized. Furthermore, capture effects should decrease as the time between retrieval and visual search increases. Both hypotheses were supported; prioritized material captured attention significantly more than non-prioritized material and capture by retrieved material decreased as time from the initial cue increased. This is similar to results in studies that used working memory and suggests that information captures attention the most when it is in a prioritized, active state, which only lasts for a short time.

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