The independence of endogenous and exogenous temporal attention

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2018 Nov;80(8):1885-1891. doi: 10.3758/s13414-018-1575-y.


Temporal attention is the focusing of perceptual resources at a particular point in time. Valid temporal cue information has the capability to improve performance by reducing reaction times, while invalid information has the possibility of impairing performance. The performance difference between valid and invalid conditions is called a temporal cueing effect (TCE). We explored how different alerting mechanisms interact with a participant's ability to utilize temporal information cues, using the Kingstone (The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44(1), 69-104, 1992) temporal cueing paradigm. Extracting the alerting procedure from Lawrence and Klein (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(2), 560-572, 2013), one of two different temporally contingent warning signals were presented to participants during a trial. The "hi-intensity" warning signal increases intensity and elicits both exogenous and endogenous alerting mechanisms. The "no-intensity" warning signal is isointense relative to baseline and elicits only endogenous alerting mechanisms. Two experiments conducted previously using a discrimination task showed interference between the signal intensity and task difficulty, where the "no-intensity" signal failed to elicit TCEs. In the present study, we implemented a detection task, reducing the mental effort required for a response. The results showed equal TCEs in both signal conditions. We argue for independence of these alerting mechanisms, by way of Sternberg's (Acta Psychologica, 30, 276-315, 1969) additive factor method. Arguments contrasting what mechanism is being impacted by this paradigm are further outlined.

Keywords: Endogenous alerting; Exogenous alerting; Temporal attention; Temporal cueing effects.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult