How does the brain maintain spatial attention despite the retinal displacement of objects by saccades? A possible solution is to use the vector of an upcoming saccade to compensate for the shift of objects on eye-centered (retinotopic) brain maps. In support of this hypothesis, previous studies have revealed attentional effects at the future retinal locus of an attended object, just before the onset of saccades. A critical yet unresolved theoretical issue is whether predictively remapped attentional effects would persist long enough on eye-centered brain maps, so no external input (goal, expectation, reward, memory, etc.) is needed to maintain spatial attention immediately following saccades. The present study examined this issue with inhibition of return (IOR), an attentional effect that reveals itself in both world-centered and eye-centered coordinates, and predictively remaps before saccades. In the first task, a saccade was introduced to a cueing task (“nonreturn-saccade task”) to show that IOR is coded in world-centered coordinates following saccades. In a second cueing task, two consecutive saccades were executed to trigger remapping and to dissociate the retinal locus relevant to remapping from the cued retinal locus (“return-saccade” task). IOR was observed at the remapped retinal locus 430-ms following the (first) saccade that triggered remapping. A third cueing task (“no-remapping” task) further revealed that the lingering IOR effect left by remapping was not confounded by the attention spillover. These results together show that predictive remapping leaves a robust attentional trace on eye-centered brain maps. This retinotopic trace is sufficient to sustain spatial attention for a few hundred milliseconds following saccades.
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Rolfs et al. (2011) suggested that attention (to a future saccade target) remaps in the opposite direction relative to the saccade vector and previous studies (Mathôt & Theeuwes, 2010; Melcher, 2007) had probed the wrong location. A recent empirical study and a reanalysis of the data from Rolfs et al. (2011) showed that the findings of Rolfs et al. (2011) may have been confounded by the spillover of attention (Arkesteijn et al., 2019), but Szinte et al. (2018) revealed clear evidence for remapping when the spillover of attention (evoked by cueing) is not a concern.
Golomb et al. (2008) probed a retinal locus relevant to remapping following two saccades and revealed a trace of attentional benefit (see Fig. S1 in the Supplemental Results accompanying this paper). They referred to this probe location as an “updated retinotopic location” and noted that the attentional benefit there “should only occur if subjects reencoded the spatiotopic location of the cue into new retinotopic coordinates during the second fixation, and this updated retinotopic memory trace persisted after the return saccade.” This study was not designed to reveal the retinotopic trace left by remapping; the fact that the probe was more likely to appear on the same side as the cued location (relative to the saccade vector) makes the results difficult to interpret.
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This project was supported by a grant (No. 31371133) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China to Z. Wang.
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Yan, C., He, T. & Wang, Z. Predictive remapping leaves a behaviorally measurable attentional trace on eye-centered brain maps. Psychon Bull Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-021-01893-1
- Eye movements
- Inhibition of return
- Predictive remapping
- Spatial attention
- Visual stability