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Carly J. Leonard, Steven J. Luck; The role of magnocellular signals in oculomotor attentional capture. Journal of Vision 2011;11(13):11. doi: 10.1167/11.13.11.
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While it is known that salient distractors often capture covert and overt attention, it is unclear whether salience signals that stem from magnocellular visual input have a more dominant role in oculomotor capture than those that result from parvocellular input. Because of the direct anatomical connections between the magnocellular pathway and the superior colliculus, salience signals generated from the magnocellular pathway may produce greater oculomotor capture than those from the parvocellular pathway, which could be potentially harder to overcome with “top-down,” goal-directed guidance. Although previous research has addressed this with regard to magnocellular transients, in the current research, we investigated whether a static singleton distractor defined along a dimension visible to the magnocellular pathway would also produce enhanced oculomotor capture. In two experiments, we addressed this possibility by comparing a parvo-biased singleton condition, in which the distractor was defined by isoluminant chromatic color contrast, with a magno + parvo singleton condition, in which the distractor also differed in luminance from the surrounding objects. In both experiments, magno + parvo singletons elicited faster eye movements than parvo-only singletons, presumably reflecting faster information transmission in the magnocellular pathway, but magno + parvo singletons were not significantly more likely to produce oculomotor capture. Thus, although magnocellular salience signals are available more rapidly, they have no sizable advantage over parvocellular salience signals in controlling oculomotor orienting when all stimuli have a common onset.
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