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Jonathan Rein, Zenon W. Pylyshyn, George Alvarez; Using multiple-object tracking (MOT) to test whether cerebral hemispheres share common visual attention resources. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):32. doi: 10.1167/5.8.32.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Alvarez & Cavanagh (VSS 2004) showed that attentive tasks presented to left and right cerebral hemispheres appear to be carried out independently, so observers perform a pair of tasks presented to different hemispheres much better than when they are presented to the same hemisphere. We further explore this important finding by using a pair of multiple object tracking (MOT) tasks involving tracking 2 targets out of 4 identical objects, which were presented in two separate quadrants of a display. We tested whether stressing one of the two tasks by increasing its speed results in poorer performance on that task and/or the paired task when the two tasks are presented in the same hemisphere compared with when they are presented in different hemispheres. The assumption that resources for the speeded-up task could be borrowed from the paired same-hemisphere task but not from the paired different-hemisphere task leads to several predictions. An increase in difficulty of one task should result in greater performance decrement in the second task in the same-hemisphere condition compared with the different-hemisphere condition. Moreover, since resources cannot be borrowed from the second task in the dual-hemisphere condition the decrement in performance on the speeded-up task itself should be greater in the dual-hemisphere condition than in the same-hemisphere condition. We used several baseline measures to assess the degree of interaction between tasks in the dual-hemisphere presentations compared with matched single-hemisphere presentations and confirmed all the above predictions, as well as the original A & C findings, thus adding strang support to the conclusion that one hemisphere is unable to draw upon attentional resources from the other hemisphere to help with an increasingly difficult task.
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