Psychological Research

, 73:136 | Cite as

Microsaccadic modulation of response times in spatial attention tasks

  • Reinhold KlieglEmail author
  • Martin Rolfs
  • Jochen Laubrock
  • Ralf Engbert
Original Article


Covert shifts of attention are usually reflected in RT differences between responses to valid and invalid cues in the Posner spatial attention task. Such inferences about covert shifts of attention do not control for microsaccades in the cue-target interval. We analyzed the effects of microsaccade orientation on RTs in four conditions, crossing peripheral visual and auditory cues with peripheral visual and auditory discrimination targets. Reaction time was generally faster on trials without microsaccades in the cue-target interval. If microsaccades occurred, the target-location congruency of the last microsaccade in the cue-target interval interacted in a complex way with cue validity. For valid visual cues, irrespective of whether the discrimination target was visual or auditory, target-congruent microsaccades delayed RT. For invalid cues, target-incongruent microsaccades facilitated RTs for visual target discrimination but delayed RT for auditory target discrimination. No reliable effects on RT were associated with auditory cues or with the first microsaccade in the cue-target interval. We discuss theoretical implications on the relation about spatial attention and oculomotor processes.


Visual Target Spatial Attention Auditory Target Covert Shift Spatial Attention Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grants KL-955/3 and KL/955-6). Data and R-scripts are available upon request. We thank Erich Schröger and a reviewer for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhold Kliegl
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Martin Rolfs
    • 1
  • Jochen Laubrock
    • 1
  • Ralf Engbert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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