Evidence for split attentional foci

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2000 Apr;26(2):834-46. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.26.2.834.


A partial report procedure was used to test the ability of observers to split attention over noncontiguous locations. Observers reported the identity of 2 targets that appeared within a 5 x 5 stimulus array, and cues (validity = 80%) informed them of the 2 most likely target locations. On invalid trials, 1 of the targets appeared directly in between the cued locations. Experiments 1, 1a, and 2 showed a strong accuracy advantage at cued locations compared with intervening ones. This effect was larger when the cues were arranged horizontally rather than vertically. Experiment 3 suggests that this effect of cue orientation reflects an advantage for processing targets that appear in different hemifields. Experiments 4 and 4a suggest that the primary mechanism supporting the flexible deployment of spatial attention is the suppression of interference from stimuli at unattended locations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*