We examined the effect of combined top-down and bottom-up attentional control sources, using known attention-related EEG components that are thought to reflect target selection (N2pc) and distractor suppression (PD ). We used endogenous cues (valid vs. neutral) for top-down attentional control, and salience in the form of color singletons (either the target or a distractor) for bottom-up attentional control in visual search. Crucially, in two experiments, the task was of increasing difficulty, reporting the orientation of a tilted target (Experiment 1), or the position of a small gap within the target among tilted non-targets (Experiment 2). Our results showed strong cueing effects on RT and accuracy in both experiments, demonstrating a general facilitation of responses to validly cued targets. Whereas the processing of salient targets was not improved compared with non-salient targets, the presence of a salient distractor consistently worsened performance. The N2pc and PD were only observed in trials where targets were preceded by neutral cues in Experiment 1, and for validly cued targets and salient neutrally cued targets in Experiment 2. A cueing effect was found on the PD in Experiment 1, showing an amplitude reduction in trials where the target was validly cued. These results support the idea that bottom-up attentional allocation occurs only when top-down allocation of attention is absent or inefficient. Therefore, these results indicate that attentional selection and suppression during visual search are both influenced by top-down cueing and give support to theories that focus on the interaction between the two types of attention.
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