Dynamics of Attention in Depth: Evidence from Mutli-Element Tracking
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The allocation of attention in depth is examined using a multi-element tracking paradigm. Observers are required to track a predefined subset of from two to eight elements in displays containing up to sixteen identical moving elements. We first show that depth cues, such as binocular disparity and occlusion through T-junctions, improve performance in a multi-element tracking task in the case where element boundaries are allowed to intersect in the depiction of motion in a single fronto-parallel plane. We also show that the allocation of attention across two perceptually distinguishable planar surfaces either fronto-parallel or receding at a slanting angle and defined by coplanar elements, is easier than allocation of attention within a single surface. The same result was not found when attention was required to be deployed across items of two color populations rather than of a single color. Our results suggest that, when surface information does not suffice to distinguish between targets and distractors that are embedded in these surfaces, division of attention across two surfaces aids in tracking moving targets.