Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 2010, 72 (5), 1244-1250


© 2010 The Psychonomic Society, Inc.


The premotor theory of attention predicts that motor movements, including manual movements and eye movements, are preceded by an obligatory shift of attention to the location of the planned response. We investigated whether the shifts of attention evoked by trained spatial cues (e.g., Dodd & Wilson, 2009) are obligatory by using an extreme prediction of the premotor theory: If individuals are trained to associate a color cue with a manual movement to the left or right, the shift of attention evoked by the color cue should also influence eye movements in an unrelated task. Participants were trained to associate an irrelevant color cue with left/right space via a training session in which directional responses were made. Experiment 1 showed that, posttraining, vertical saccades deviated in the direction of the trained response, despite the fact that the color cue was irrelevant. Experiment 2 showed that latencies of horizontal saccades were shorter when an eye movement had to be made in the direction of the trained response. These results demonstrate that the shifts of attention evoked by trained stimuli are obligatory, in addition to providing support for the premotor theory and for a connection between the attentional, motor, and oculomotor systems.

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