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Deena Elwan, Ayelet Landau, Sarah Holtz, Han Duong, William Prinzmetal; Individual differences in voluntary and involuntary attention. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):134. doi: 10.1167/9.8.134.
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The present study examined whether voluntary and involuntary attention manifest differently in people with differences in impulsivity (measured with the Barratts Impulsivity Survey). We proposed that high and low impulsive participants would display different amounts of voluntary and involuntary attention. We used the spatial-cueing paradigm to assess attention. In each trial a peripheral cue (the thickening of a rectangle) was displayed, followed by a letter target. Participants were required to identify the target (F or T). Targets could either appear in the cued location (valid trials) or in the uncued location (invalid trials). We used two different manipulations to probe voluntary and involuntary attention. The first was the time elapsing between the cue onset and the target onset (SOA). Targets were separated from cues by either 40 or 400 ms. This manipulation was motivated by the finding that involuntary attention is typically transient while voluntary attention takes longer to build up. In addition, the peripheral cues were either predictive of cue location (i.e., mostly valid trials) or non predictive of cue location (i.e., equal probability for valid and invalid trials). While predictive trials probe voluntary and involuntary attention, non predictive trials summon only involuntary attention, since target location is random with respect to cue location. The different SOAs and predictability manipulations were performed in separate blocks within subjects. We found that participants with high impulsivity scores exhibited larger involuntary attention effects whereas participants with low impulsivity scores, exhibited larger voluntary attention effects. This finding reveals cognitive processes underlying the measure of impulsivity. In addition, this finding suggests that voluntary and involuntary can be modulated independently contributing to the theoretical distinction between these systems.
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