Effects of luminance change in preview search: offsets and onsets can be concurrently prioritized but not in isolation.
It has been argued that search performance under preview conditions relies on automatic capture by luminance onsets (Donk & Theeuwes, 2001). We present three experiments in which preview search was examined with both isoluminant and nonisoluminant items (e.g., as defined by luminance onsets). Experiment 1 provided evidence against the automatic capture of attention by onsets. Search benefited when onset previews were followed by new onset stimuli, as compared with a full-set baseline matched for the number of new onsets but in which half the distractors appeared simultaneously at isoluminance. Furthermore, both Experiments 1 and 2 established a preview advantage when isoluminant targets followed onset previews, when compared with appropriate full-set baselines. Experiment 3 replicated this result, while showing that the preview benefit was disrupted by dual-task interference. The data indicate that new onsets are not necessary to generate a preview advantage in search. We discuss the data in terms of search's benefiting from active inhibition of old onset-defined stimuli.