The biased competition account claims that competition between two stimuli increases when they are close together compared with when they are far apart. The reason is that nearby stimuli are more likely to be represented in the same receptive fields, requiring top–down or bottom–up biases to resolve the ambiguity. Consistent with biased competition, previous research showed that an index of attentional enhancement, the N2pc component, was attenuated when two targets were close together. In contrast, it is unclear whether distractor processing would also be attenuated when the distractor is close to the target. To answer this question, we used the additional singleton paradigm where a target is sometimes accompanied by a more salient, but entirely irrelevant, distractor. In the conditions of interest, the distance between the target and the distractor was systematically manipulated whereas the eccentricity to central fixation was always the same. The results showed that two indices of attentional suppression, the positivity posterior contralateral and distractor positivity components, were attenuated when the distractor was close to the target. Consistent with biased competition, attentional suppression of distractors was inhibited when the distance between target and distractor was short. The reduced attentional suppression of distractors with nearby targets may contribute to the increased behavioral interference with close distractors.

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