Visual orienting in response to attentional cues: Spatial correspondence is critical, conscious awareness is not

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Three experiments examined visual orienting in response to spatial precues. In Experiments 1 and 2, attentional effects of central letters were stimulus driven: Orienting was dependent on the spatial layout of the cue display. When there were no correspondences between spatial features of the cue display and target location, attentional effects were absent, despite a conscious intention to orient in response to the symbolic information carried by the cue letters. In Experiment 3 clear orienting effects were observed when target location corresponded with spatial features of the cue display, but the magnitude of these effects was unaffected by whether participants were aware or unaware of the cue–target relationship. These findings are consistent with the view that (1) spatial correspondences between cues and targets are a critical factor driving visual orienting in cueing paradigms, and (2) attentional effects of spatial precues are largely independent of participants’ conscious awareness of the cue–target relationship.

Keywords: Attention; Endogenous; Orienting; Spatial correspondence; Spatial cues

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology,University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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