The Relationship Between Spatial Attention and Eye Movements

  • Amelia R. HuntEmail author
  • Josephine Reuther
  • Matthew D. Hilchey
  • Raymond M. Klein
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 41)


The nature of the relationship between spatial attention and eye movements has been the subject of intense debate for more than 40 years. Two ideas have dominated this debate. First is the idea that spatial attention shares common neural mechanisms with eye movement programming, characterizing attention as an eye movement that has been prepared but not executed. Second, based on the observation that attention shifts to saccade targets, several theories have proposed that saccade programming necessarily recruits attentional resources. In this chapter, we review the evidence for each of these ideas and discuss some of the limitations and challenges in confirming their predictions. Although they are clearly dependent under some circumstances, dissociations between spatial attention and eye movements, and clear differences in their basic functions, point to the existence of two interconnected, but separate, systems.


Attention Eye movements Premotor theory Spatial orienting 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amelia R. Hunt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josephine Reuther
    • 1
  • Matthew D. Hilchey
    • 2
  • Raymond M. Klein
    • 3
  1. 1.University of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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