Sustained attention to local and global target features is different: Performance and tympanic membrane temperature

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Vision researchers have investigated the differences between global and local feature perception. No one has, however, examined the role of global and local feature discrimination in sustained attention tasks. In this experiment participants performed a sustained attention task requiring either global or local letter target discriminations or watched the same displays without any work imperative. Reaction time to targets was slower when global feature discriminations were required than when local feature discriminations were required. Tympanic membrane temperature (TMT) was utilized in this study as an index of cerebral activation. Participants in the global letter detection condition had elevated post-task right TMT, indicative of reduced cerebral activation in the right hemisphere, in comparison to participants in the local letter detection or no-work imperative conditions. Both the performance and physiological results of this study indicate increased cognitive fatigue when global feature discriminations are required. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Brain and Cognition