Natural scenes are explored by combinations of saccadic eye movements and shifts of attention. The mechanisms that coordinate attention and saccades during ordinary viewing are not well understood because studies linking saccades and attention have focused mainly on single saccades made in isolation. This study used an orientation discrimination task to examine attention during sequences of saccades made through an array of targets and distractors. Perceptual measures showed that attention was distributed along saccadic paths when the paths were marked by color cues. When paths were followed from memory, attention rarely spread beyond the goal of the upcoming saccade. These different distributions of attention suggest the involvement of separate processes of attentional control during saccadic planning, one triggered by top-down selection of the saccadic target, and the other by activation linked to visual mechanisms not tied directly to saccadic planning. The concurrent activity of both processes extends the effective attentional field without compromising the accuracy, precision, or timing of saccades.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems
- Eye movements
- Motor control
- Orientation discrimination