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
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