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Capture of the eyes by relevant and irrelevant onsets

By Manon Mulckhuyse, Wieske van Zoest and Jan Theeuwes


During early visual processing the eyes can be captured by salient visual information in the environment. Whether a salient stimulus captures the eyes in a purely automatic, bottom-up fashion or whether capture is contingent on task demands is still under debate. In the first experiment, we manipulated the relevance of a salient onset distractor. The onset distractor could either be similar or dissimilar to the target. Error saccade latency distributions showed that early in time, oculomotor capture was driven purely bottom-up irrespective of distractor similarity. Later in time, top-down information became available resulting in contingent capture. In the second experiment, we manipulated the saliency information at the target location. A salient onset stimulus could be presented either at the target or at a non-target location. The latency distributions of error and correct saccades had a similar time-course as those observed in the first experiment. Initially, the distributions overlapped but later in time task-relevant information decelerated the oculomotor system. The present findings reveal the interaction between bottom-up and top-down processes in oculomotor behavior. We conclude that the task relevance of a salient event is not crucial for capture of the eyes to occur. Moreover, task-relevant information may integrate with saliency information to initiate saccades, but only later in time

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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