In visual search, the internal representation of the target feature is referred to as the attentional template. The attentional template can be broad or precise depending on the task requirements. In singleton search, the attentional template is broad because the target is the only colored element in the display. In feature search, a precise attentional template is required because the target is in a specific color in an array of varied colors. To measure the precision of the attentional template, we used a cue-target paradigm where cueing benefits decrease when the cue color differs from the target color. Consistent with broad and precise attentional templates, the decrease of cueing effects was stronger in feature than in singleton search. Measurements of ERPs showed that the N2pc elicited by the cue decreased with increasing color difference, suggesting that attention was more strongly captured by cues that were similar to the target. However, the cue-elicited N2pc did not differ between feature and singleton search, making it unlikely to reflect the mechanism underlying attentional template precision. Furthermore, there was no evidence for attentional suppression as there was no cue-elicited PD, even in conditions where the cueing benefit turned into a same-location cost. However, an index of signal enhancement, the contralateral positivity, reflected attention template precision. In general, there was sensory enhancement of the stimulus appearing at the cued location in the search display. With broad attentional templates, any stimulus at the cued location was enhanced, whereas enhancement was restricted to target-matching colors with precise attentional templates.

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