Visuomotor origins of covert spatial attention

Neuron. 2003 Nov 13;40(4):671-83. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00716-5.


Covert spatial attention produces biases in perceptual performance and neural processing of behaviorally relevant stimuli in the absence of overt orienting movements. The neural mechanism that gives rise to these effects is poorly understood. This paper surveys past evidence of a relationship between oculomotor control and visual spatial attention and more recent evidence of a causal link between the control of saccadic eye movements by frontal cortex and covert visual selection. Both suggest that the mechanism of covert spatial attention emerges as a consequence of the reciprocal interactions between neural circuits primarily involved in specifying the visual properties of potential targets and those involved in specifying the movements needed to fixate them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*