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S. Van der Stigchel, J. P. de Vries; There is no attentional global effect: Attentional shifts are independent of the saccade endpoint. Journal of Vision 2015;15(15):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.15.17.
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Many studies have found a strong coupling between selective attention and eye movements. The premotor theory of attention suggests that saccade preparation is directly responsible for such attentional shifts. While it has already been shown that the attentional shift is not directly coupled to the final stages of motor execution, it is currently unknown to what aspect of the earlier stages of saccade preparation the attentional shift is coupled. An important step in this preparation process is resolving the landing point when multiple elements compete for the saccade. Here we ask how such a competition influences the presaccadic attentional locus and whether the presaccadic shift of attention is coupled to the saccade landing position or the possible saccade goals. To this end, we adopt a global effect paradigm where a target is accompanied by a salient distractor resulting in the majority of eye movements landing in between target and distractor. To determine the allocation of attention, participants are presented with a discrimination task shortly before the execution of the saccade. Despite a strong global effect obtained for saccade endpoints, we find little evidence for attentional facilitation at the location between target and distractor, but strong attentional facilitation at the location of the target and distractor. We argue that attention is coupled to active oculomotor programs, but not part of the resolution of these programs towards the execution of the saccade.
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