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Topfstedt, Christof Elias; Wollenberg, Luca ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3874-7949 and Schenk, Thomas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6986-6916 (2024): Training enables substantial decoupling of visual attention and saccade preparation. In: Vision Research, Vol. 221, 108424 [PDF, 1MB]


Visual attention is typically shifted toward the targets of upcoming saccadic eye movements. This observation is commonly interpreted in terms of an obligatory coupling between attentional selection and oculomotor programming. Here, we investigated whether this coupling is facilitated by a habitual expectation of spatial congruence between visual and motor targets. To this end, we conducted a dual-task (i.e., concurrent saccade task and visual discrimination task) experiment in which male and female participants were trained to either anticipate spatial congruence or incongruence between a saccade target and an attention probe stimulus. To assess training-induced effects of expectation on premotor attention allocation, participants subsequently completed a test phase in which the attention probe position was randomized. Results revealed that discrimination performance was systematically biased toward the expected attention probe position, irrespective of whether this position matched the saccade target or not. Overall, our findings demonstrate that visual attention can be substantially decoupled from ongoing oculomotor programming and suggest an important role of habitual expectations in the attention-action coupling.

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