It has been argued that phylogenetic fear-relevant stimuli elicit preattentive capture of attention. To distinguish between fear relevance and time of appearance in evolutionary history, the authors compare phylogenetic and ontogenetic fear-relevant and fear-irrelevant stimuli in a visual search task. The authors found no evidence for a special role of phylogenetic fear-relevant stimuli; it seems that fear relevance in general is more important than is the evolutionary age. The pattern of results indicates that attention toward threatening stimuli is mainly affected by a late component that prolongs the disengagement of attention.
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