May 2008
Volume 8, Issue 6
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Holding up the eyes, not the hands: The effect of remote distractors on reaction times
Author Affiliations
  • Antimo Buonocore
    Department of Psychology, University of Trieste, and Human Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh
  • Robert McIntosh
    Human Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh
Journal of Vision May 2008, Vol.8, 783. doi:10.1167/8.6.783
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      Antimo Buonocore, Robert McIntosh; Holding up the eyes, not the hands: The effect of remote distractors on reaction times. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):783. doi: 10.1167/8.6.783.

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Abstract

The Remote Distractor Effect (RDE) is a robust phenomenon in which a saccade to a lateralized target is delayed by the simultaneous appearance of a distractor in the opposite hemifield (Walker at al., 1997). The premotor theory of attention proposes that covert shifts of attention reflect the activity of neural circuits used during saccade preparation, with the only difference being that the saccade is not executed (Rizzolatti et al., 1987). This theory predicts that the RDE should not be specific to saccadic responses but should generalise to any response that requires a shift of spatial attention. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the RDE applies to other effectors rather than the eyes. In the first experiment participants responded to a stimulus, at a predictable location, moving their eyes, or pointing to the target whilst maintaining central fixation. The target was presented alone or with a simultaneous distractor in the opposite visual hemifield. A reliable RDE was observed for eye movements, but not for pointing responses. The same pattern was observed in a more naturalistic version of the task, in which eye movements were not restricted. Contrary to the predictions of the premotor theory, these results suggest that shifts of spatial attention do not share all of the properties of saccadic eye movements.

Buonocore, A. McIntosh, R. (2008). Holding up the eyes, not the hands: The effect of remote distractors on reaction times [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 8(6):783, 783a, http://journalofvision.org/8/6/783/, doi:10.1167/8.6.783. [CrossRef]
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