Visual and oculomotor selection: links, causes and implications for spatial attention

Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Mar;10(3):124-30. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2006.01.001. Epub 2006 Feb 15.


Natural scenes contain far more information than can be processed simultaneously. Thus, our visually guided behavior depends crucially on the capacity to attend to relevant stimuli. Past studies have provided compelling evidence of functional overlap of the neural mechanisms that control spatial attention and saccadic eye movements. Recent neurophysiological work demonstrates that the neural circuits involved in the preparation of saccades also play a causal role in directing covert spatial attention. At the same time, other studies have identified separable neural populations that contribute uniquely to visual and oculomotor selection. Taken together, all of the recent work suggests how visual and oculomotor signals are integrated to simultaneously select the visual attributes of targets and the saccades needed to fixate them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*