Reports of negative priming in the absence of flanker effects (Fox, 1995) provide support for the notion that unattended stimuli are identified. I evaluated the hypothesis that such results are the outcome of attentional leakage to the flanker location. In Experiment 1, I assessed flanker effects and negative priming as a function of target-flanker proximity (.9° and 2.7° for near and far flankers, respectively) and of attention cuing to the target location (precued vs. uncued) on the prime trials. I report larger flanker effects in uncued than in precued conditions, and larger effects for near than for far flankers. More critically, when attention was precued, both flanker effects and negative priming vanished for far flankers. In Experiment 2, I show that the latter result was not linked to prime-probe contextual similarity (Neill, 1997). These results demonstrate that selective target processing is possible when attention is optimally focused to the target location.

Additional Metadata
Journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
Paquet, L. (2001). Eliminating flanker effects and negative priming in the flankers task: Evidence for early selection. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 8(2), 301–306.