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Michael Dodd, Stefan Van der Stigchel, Daryl Wilson; Training attention: Examining interactions between the attentional, motor, and oculomotor systems. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):698. doi: 10.1167/7.9.698.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We present three experiments in which we investigate whether the recently reported interactions between central cues (e.g., arrows) and reflexive attention are attributable to the overlearned spatial properties of certain central cues. In the first two experiments, a nonpredictive cue with arbitrary spatial properties (a color patch) is presented prior to a detection target in the left or right visual field. Reaction times to detect targets are compared before and after a training session in which participants are trained to associate each color patch with left and right space, either via a target detection task in which color predicts target location 100% of the time (Experiment 1), or via a left/right motor movement as a function of color (Experiment 2). In both experiments, a small but highly significant training effect is observed. Participants are faster to detect targets at congruent locations relative to incongruent locations post-training relative to pre-training, despite the fact that cue color was nonpredictive during the test sessions. Interestingly, the magnitude of the training effect in the two experiments was identical despite the fact that one of the training tasks required a visuospatial shift of attention to complete (target detection) whereas the other training task did not (motor movement), suggesting a tight coupling between the motor and attentional systems. In Experiment 3, we examine whether our target detection and motor training tasks also influence saccade trajectory in a prosaccade task post-training. Our results provide strong evidence that interactions between central cues and reflexive attention are attributable to the overlearned spatial associations of certain cues. Moreover, the present results are consistent with premotor theory of attention in that we observe interactions between the attention, motor, and oculomotor systems.
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