Influence of attentional capture on oculomotor control

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1999 Dec;25(6):1595-608. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.25.6.1595.


Previous research has shown that when searching for a color singleton, top-down control cannot prevent attentional capture by an abrupt visual onset. The present research addressed whether a task-irrelevant abrupt onset would affect eye movement behavior when searching for a color singleton. Results show that in many instances the eye moved in the direction of the task-irrelevant abrupt onset. There was evidence that top-down control could neither entirely prevent attentional capture by visual onsets nor prevent the eye from starting to move in the direction of the onset. Results suggest parallel programming of 2 saccades: 1 voluntary goal-directed eye movement toward the color singleton target and 1 stimulus-driven eye movement reflexively elicited by the abrupt onset. A neurophysiologically plausible model that can account for the current findings is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention* / physiology
  • Color Perception* / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation* / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual* / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades* / physiology