Reflexive Spatial Attention to Goal Directed Reaching


Social interaction involves cues such as gaze direction, head orientation, and pointing gestures that serve to automatically orient attention to a specific referent or spatial location. In this paper we demonstrate that an observed reaching action similarly results in a reflexive shift in attention as evidenced by faster responses that are congruent with the direction of the reach, than responses that are incongruent. When the task involves a saccadic response (Experiment 1) this prediction is inhibited and results in a reverse-congruence, faster responses to incongruent than congruent cues, when the cue occurs after the reach is completed. This reverse-congruence is not present when the task involves a key press (Experiment 2) or a mouse movement (Experiment 3). We propose that the inhibition of the predictive saccade is overcome when the eye movements toward the goal are activated to guide the mouse movement.

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