Top-down control over biased competition during covert spatial orienting

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2003 Feb;29(1):52-63. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.29.1.52.


Larger benefits of spatial attention are observed when distractor interference is prevalent, supporting the view that spatial selection facilitates visual processing by suppressing distractor interference. The present work shows that cuing effects with identical visual displays can grow substantially as the probability of distractor interference increases. The probability of interference had no impact on spatial cuing effects in the absence of distractors, suggesting that the enlarged cuing effects were not caused by changes in signal enhancement or in the spatial distribution of attention. These findings suggest that attentional control settings determine more than where spatial attention is directed; top-down settings also influence how attention affects visual processing, with increased levels of distractor exclusion when distractor interference is likely.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Orientation*
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time
  • Signal Detection, Psychological
  • Space Perception*
  • Visual Perception
  • Volition*