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Salient distractors demand our attention. Their salience, derived from intensity, relative contrast or learned relevance, captures our limited information capacity. This is typically an adaptive response as salient stimuli may require an immediate change in behaviour. However, sometimes apparent salient distractors do not capture attention. Theeuwes, in his recent commentary, has proposed certain boundary conditions of the visual scene that result in one of two search modes, serial or parallel, that determine whether we can avoid salient distractors or not. Here, we argue that a more complete theory should consider the temporal and contextual factors that influence the very salience of the distractor itself.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cogn

Publication Date





Attention, Cognitive Control, Implicit learning