Date of Award

Winter 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. C. Bruce Warner

Second Advisor

Dr. Regan Slater

Third Advisor

Dr. Don Viney


The following graduate thesis describes research designed to examine flanker interference at varying spatial distances from a target stimulus. Traditionally, much evidence has accumulated that the distribution of visual attention conforms to a monotonically decreasing gradient in which distractors at the farthest separations produce the least interference (e.g., Erikson & St. James, 1986). Different from this traditional conceptualization, Müller, Mollenhauer, Rösler, and Kleinschmidt (2005) describe what they termed a Mexican hat distribution of visual attention showing flankers at an intermediate zone produce less interference. The current study is designed to investigate whether flanker interference declines monotonically with distance or follows a Mexican hat-like distribution reported by Müller et al. (2005) In order to do so, the current study’s flanker paradigm is distinguished from the design used by Müller et al. (2005) in that cue-target SOA is manipulated and target location is not fixed. Also employed in this paradigm is perceptual load as defined by the number of distracting stimuli. This area of study is at the forefront of visual attention within cognitive psychology. Research concerning allocation of attention in humans is an essential part of the science of psychology as the research findings are important for areas of psychology that deal with human cognition and behavior.



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