August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
Linguistic control of visual attention: Differential access and focus or just confusion?
Author Affiliations
  • Gregory Davis
    Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame
  • Bradley Gibson
    Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 189. doi:
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      Gregory Davis, Bradley Gibson; Linguistic control of visual attention: Differential access and focus or just confusion?. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):189.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Investigation of the linguistic control of visual selective attention has shown that spatial language cues produce a cued-location effect (increased RTs in response to “left” and “right” when compared to “Above” and “Below”; Logan, 1995; Gibson & Kingstone, 2006). The cued-location effect is generally interpreted as representing differential access to spatial locations. In addition, an opposite-compatibility effect (distractors at uncued locations opposite the target decrease RTs when compatible and increase RTs when incompatible; Gibson, Scheutz, & Davis, in press) has been demonstrated that is unique to the cues “Left” and “Right.” The opposite-compatibility effect has been interpreted as representing a differential focus of attention. The present experiment explored an alternative explanation that confusion about locations along the horizontal axis is the underlying cause of these effects by separating cue processing from the visual selection task. In this experiment, subjects were presented with the spatial cues “Above,” “Below,” “Left,” and “Right” and asked to move a joystick in the corresponding direction. Immediately following their response, subjects engaged in color discrimination task where the target was indicated by the preceding word cue. Results of the joystick task showed that subjects were both slower in responding to “Left” and “Right” and also made significantly more errors when compared to “Above” and “Below.” Results of the selection task demonstrate a significant cued-location effect but not a significant opposite-compatibility effect. These results suggest that left/right confusion cannot explain the differential efficiency of accessing spatial locations across the axes but may influence attentional focus. An alternative “embodied cognition” interpretation of the non-significant opposite-compatibility effect is also discussed.

Davis, G. Gibson, B. (2009). Linguistic control of visual attention: Differential access and focus or just confusion? [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):189, 189a,, doi:10.1167/9.8.189. [CrossRef]

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