Adaptive deployment of spatial and feature-based attention before saccades


  • White Alex L.
  • Rolfs Martin
  • Carrasco Marisa

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What you see depends not only on where you are looking but also on where you will look next. The presaccadic attention shift is an automatic enhancement of visual sensitivity at the target of the next saccade. We investigated whether and how perceptual factors independent of the oculomotor plan modulate pre-saccadic attention within and across trials. Observers made saccades to one (the target) of six patches of moving dots and discriminated a brief luminance pulse (the probe) that appeared at an unpredictable location. Sensitivity to the probe was always higher at the target's location (spatial attention), and this attention effect was stronger if the previous probe appeared at the previous target's location. Further-more, sensitivity was higher for probes moving in directions similar to the target's direction (feature-based attention), but only when the previous probe moved in the same direction as the previous target. Therefore, implicit cognitive processes permeate pre-saccadic attention, so that-contingent on recent experience-it flexibly distributes resources to potentially relevant locations and features. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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