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Christopher Masciocchi, Veronica Dark; Exploring the distinction between semantic and spatial selective attention using eye movements. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):637. doi: 10.1167/7.9.637.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Dark, Vochatzer and VanVoorhis (1996, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance) presented pair of words for 100 ms before masking them. A small abrupt onset peripheral arrow cued the location of one word 50 ms before pair onset. On some trials, one word in the pair was related to a context word presented before pair onset. Instructions were to report both words but typically only one word was reported. Both relatedness and spatial cuing independently influenced which word was reported, leading to the conclusion that semantic and visual selective attention are different mechanisms. The current study employed a similar procedure except there was always a related word in the pair. Subjects in all experiments were instructed to not move their eyes, but because eye movements are linked to visual selective attention, we monitored the direction of eye movements. In Experiment 1, subjects were instructed to report both words. Behavioral findings replicated the pattern found by Dark et al.: participants reported more related words and more cued words. Moreover, participants were more likely to move their eyes to a cued than an uncued word. In Experiment 2, two groups of subjects performed different tasks: report the cued word or report the related word. The behavioral data again replicated Dark et al.'s findings of a benefit for related and cued words. More eye movements were made on trials in the report cued (39%) than in report related condition (32%). Additionally, eye movements were more likely to be made to cued words regardless of whether instructions were to report the cued word or related word. Thus, while visual cues draw spatial attention, this does not interfere with the processing of primed words. Taken together, these results support Dark et al.'s conclusion that semantic selective attention and visual selective attention are distinct.
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