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Saurabh Dhawan, Heiner Deubel, Donatas Jonikaitis; Inhibition of saccades elicits attentional suppression. Journal of Vision 2013;13(6):9. doi: 10.1167/13.6.9.
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Visuospatial attention has been shown to have a central role in planning and generation of saccades but what role, if any, it plays in inhibition of saccades remains unclear. In this study, we used an oculomotor delayed match- or nonmatch-to-sample task in which a cued location has to be encoded and memorized for one of two very different goals—to plan a saccade to it or to avoid making a saccade to it. We measured the spatial allocation of attention during the delay and found that while marking a location as a future saccade target resulted in an attentional benefit at that location, marking it as forbidden to saccades led to an attentional cost. Additionally, saccade trajectories were found to deviate away more from the “don't look” location than from a saccade-irrelevant distractor confirming greater inhibition of an actively forbidden location in oculomotor programming. Our finding that attention is suppressed at locations forbidden to saccades confirms and complements the claim of a selective and obligatory coupling between saccades and attention—saccades at the memorized location could neither be planned nor suppressed independent of a corresponding effect on attentional performance.
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