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Todd S. Horowitz, Alex O. Holcombe, Jeremy M. Wolfe, Helga C. Arsenio, Jennifer S. DiMase; Attentional pursuit is faster than attentional saccade. Journal of Vision 2004;4(7):6. doi: 10.1167/4.7.6.
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How quickly can we shift the focus of visual attention? We compared the rates of two types of attentional shifts: attentional saccades (shifts between objects) and attentional pursuit (shifts along with a moving object). Instead of measuring the time required for a single shift, which confounds shift time with cue interpretation time, we measured the pace at which observers could make multiple successive shifts in a predictable order. We find that successive attentional saccades between objects are quite slow (300–500 ms). The object-based theory of attention predicts that attention should shift between locations more quickly when in pursuit of a moving object. Our results support this theory. Attentional pursuit is substantially faster — taking only 200–250 ms to cover the same distance. “Indexing” a moving object (keeping track of one object) can be done at even faster rates, supporting a distinction between attending to and indexing objects.
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