Bridging Visual and Executive Attention


Attention is divided by scholars such as Parasuraman (2000) into loosely related kinds of attention, such as visual attention and executive attention. The distinction between exogeneity and endogeneity is well-known in visual attention work, such as Prinzmetal's (2009) finding that exogenous and endogenous cues had opposite interactions with search task difficulty. In a new experiment, we examined this effect by introducing multiple levels of stimulus-onset asynchrony to cues. Our work has implications for other forms of attention: another experiment investigates the effect of exogenous/endogenous cues on a decision-making task requiring executive attention. Prinzmetal proposed voluntary and involuntary mechanisms at work in visual attention; we propose that these mechanisms should be extended to higher-level attentional processes as well. While the standard taxonomy is ambiguous about connections between attentional processes, we may be able to understand attention in general with a unified approach drawing upon commonalities between different sorts of attention.

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