Feature-based attention across saccades and immediate postsaccadic selection

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2016 Jul;78(5):1293-301. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1110-y.


Before each eye movement, attentional resources are drawn to the saccade goal. This saccade-related attention is known to be spatial in nature, and in this study we asked whether it also evokes any feature selectivity that is maintained across the saccade. After a saccade toward a colored target, participants performed a postsaccadic feature search on an array displayed at landing. The saccade target either had the same color as the search target in the postsaccadic array (congruent trials) or a different color (incongruent or neutral trials). Our results show that the color of the saccade target did not prime the subsequent feature search. This suggests that "landmark search", the process of searching for the saccade target once the eye lands (Deubel in Visual Cognition, 11, 173-202, 2004), may not involve the attentional mechanisms that underlie feature search. We also analyzed intertrial effects and observed priming of pop-out (Maljkovic & Nakayama in Memory & Cognition, 22, 657-672, 1994) for the postsaccadic feature search: the detection of the color singleton became faster when its color was repeated on successive trials. However, search performance revealed no effect of congruency between the saccade and search targets, either within or across trials, suggesting that the priming of pop-out is specific to target repetitions within the same task and is not seen for repetitions across tasks. Our results support a dissociation between feature-based attention and the attentional mechanisms associated with eye movement programming.

Keywords: Attention; Eye movements; Feature-based attention; Priming of pop-out; Saccades; Visual search.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Repetition Priming / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*