Allocation of attention across saccades


  • Jonikaitis Donatas
  • Szinte Martin
  • Rolfs Martin
  • Cavanagh Patrick

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Jonikaitis D, Szinte M, Rolfs M, Cavanagh P. Allocation of attention across saccades. J Neurophysiol 109: 1425-1434, 2013. First published December 5, 2012; doi:10.1152/jn.00656.2012.-Whenever the eyes move, spatial attention must keep track of the locations of targets as they shift on the retina. This study investigated transsaccadic updating of visual attention to cued targets. While observers prepared a saccade, we flashed an irrelevant, but salient, color cue in their visual periphery and measured the allocation of spatial attention before and after the saccade using a tilt discrimination task. We found that just before the saccade, attention was allocated to the cue's future retinal location, its predictively ``remapped'' location. Attention was sustained at the cue's location in the world across the saccade, despite the change of retinal position whereas it decayed quickly at the retinal location of the cue, after the eye landed. By extinguishing the color cue across the saccade, we further demonstrate that the visual system relies only on predictive allocation of spatial attention, as the presence of the cue after the saccade did not substantially affect attentional allocation. These behavioral results support and extend physiological evidence showing predictive activation of visual neurons when an attended stimulus will fall in their receptive field after a saccade. Our results show that tracking of spatial locations across saccades is a plausible consequence of physiological remapping.

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