September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Is temporal orienting a voluntary and controlled process?
Author Affiliations
  • Sander Los
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Martijn Meeter
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Wouter Kruijne
    University of Groningen
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 67. doi:
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      Sander Los, Martijn Meeter, Wouter Kruijne; Is temporal orienting a voluntary and controlled process?. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):67. doi:

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

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Temporal orienting involves the allocation of attentional resources to future points in time to facilitate the processing of an expected target stimulus. To examine temporal orienting, studies have varied the foreperiod between a warning stimulus and a target stimulus, with a cue specifying the duration of the foreperiod at the start of each trial with high validity (typically 80%). It has invariably been found that the validity of the cue has a substantial behavioral effect (typically expressed in reaction times) on short-foreperiod trials but not on long-foreperiod trials. The standard explanation of this asymmetry starts with the idea that, at the start of each trial, the participant voluntarily aligns the focus of attention with the moment specified by the cue. On short foreperiod trials, this policy leads to an effect of cue validity, reflecting differential temporal orienting. By contrast, on long-foreperiod trials, an initially incorrect early focus of attention (induced by an invalid cue) will be discovered during the ongoing foreperiod, allowing re-orienting toward a later point in time, thus preventing behavioral costs. In this presentation, we challenge this view. Starting from our recent multiple trace theory of temporal preparation (MTP), we developed an alternative explanation based on the formation of associations between the specific cues and foreperiods. We will show that MTP accounts naturally for the typical findings in temporal orienting without recourse to voluntary and controlled processes. We will discuss initial data that serve to distinguish between the standard view and the view derived from MTP.


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