, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 98-116
Date: 06 Jan 2005

The role of spatial attention and other processes on the magnitude and time course of cueing effects

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We are quite often exposed to multiple objects present in the visual scene, thus attentional selection is necessary in order to selectively respond to the relevant information. Objects can be selected on the basis of the location they occupy by orienting attention in space. In this paper, we review the evidence showing that attention can be oriented in space either endogenously, on the basis of central cues, predictive of the relevant location, or exogenously, automatically triggered by the salient properties of visual stimuli (peripheral cues). Several dissociations observed between orienting on the basis of the two types of cues have led to the conclusion that they do not represent just two modes of triggering the orienting of the very same attentional mechanism, but rather they modulate processing differently. We present a theoretical framework according to which endogenous predictive cues facilitate target processing by orienting attention, thus amplifying processing at the attended location. In contrast, apart from attentional orienting, peripherally presented discrepant cues might trigger additional cue-target event-integration and event-segregation processes, which modulate processing in a different way, thus leading to cueing effects that are exclusively triggered by peripheral cues.