Attention and the Localization of Stimuli

  Experimental Setting Copyright: Jens Tiggelbeck

Sponsorship and Administration

German Science Foundation (DFG MU 1298/6). This project is led by Professor Jochen Müsseler, RWTH Aachen University, Work and Cognitive Psychology

Project Member

Dipl.-Psych. Jens Tiggelbeck: RWTH Aachen University, Work and Cognitive Psychology


Attention forms an integral part of everyday experience, ranging from keeping track of the numerous sensory inputs emanating from an ever growing number of sources in an increasingly complex modern world to maintaining the focus on a given task and shielding it from excessive environmental informational noise and conflicting sensory inputs stemming from other, possibly equally important sources.
In this context and in accordance with the fact that visual perception and its associated neuronal systems have to be interpreted with reference to the environment in which they developed, attentional performance in a surrounding that is dominated by motion and that necessitates initiation and control of own movements is of specific importance and interest alike. As a result, the ability to shift attention towards movements as well as localizing the spatial position of involved objects even in parts of the visual field that are currently not in central focus, are an integral feature to a system of visual perception that successfully adapted to its environment. And although it is a well-known fact that a peripherally presented stimulus is capable of capturing an observer’s attention even despite a constantly maintained central fixation of gaze, the exact interrelation and interdependence of attention and accuracy of localization has not been the focus of widespread research and is yet widely unknown.
Moreover, recently reported experimental evidence suggests an asymmetrical influence of the spatial predictability of a given stimulus’ onset position and thus an observer’s attentional focus on localization judgment performance. Hence, localization performance for stationary stimuli degrades when the approximate area of their appearance is unknown and attention has to be spread across larger areas of the visual field. However, if attention can be focused on specific locations, performance is greatly improved. Conversely, experimental evidence suggests the opposite pattern in case of moving stimuli: mislocalization of the stimulus onset position is reduced if spatial uncertainty is high but increases with lower degrees of uncertainty.
Based on these inconsistencies in localization judgments subjects solve localization tasks with stationary and moving stimuli under different attention conditions. The acquired behavioral measures are supposed to grant deeper insights into the underlying cognitive systems and mechanisms. Furthermore the acquired data is supposed to serve as the basis for a neuronal model of these underlying mechanisms.

      random & constant stimuli Copyright: JT  

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