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Attentional Orienting in Two-dimensional Space

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This paper examines how the covert orienting of spatial attention affects motor responses to visual stimuli. Premotor theories, as well as hemi-field inhibition accounts of visual attention predict an increase in response times when a target stimulus appears in the opposite direction to a spatial cue. Some models also suggest that this meridional effect should be increased across oblique meridians. Two types of cue (central and peripheral) were used to orient attention towards locations prior to the onset of visual targets. Simple manual (press button) and saccadic responses were measured. No meridional effects were found with peripheral cues, whereas central cueing produced meridional effects across all meridians. Cueing effects did not vary significantly with two-dimensional axis for either manual or saccadic responses. Increases in response time with cue-target distance were found for both response and cue types. For saccades, distance gradients were shallower moving distally rather than proximally from the cued position. However, simple manual responses did not show this asymmetry. Orienting to central cues also modulated the amplitude of saccades. The results are consistent with an effect of attentional cues in oculomotor centres as well as the existence of actiondependent attentional representations. However, it is proposed that, rather than reflecting oculomotor programming, meridional effects arise from a directional organization within spatio-cognitive representations.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713755835

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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