Oculomotor feedback rapidly reduces overt attentional capture. Academic Article uri icon


  • People often have limited awareness of the extent to which their attention is captured by salient-but-irrelevant stimuli. In the present study, we examined how providing feedback concerning the frequency of oculomotor capture by such stimuli modulates the control of attention. Our results show that the provision of oculomotor feedback produces a rapid and dramatic decrease in the frequency of distractor fixations. Further probing of this reduction in oculomotor capture by time to fixate the first stimulus revealed further insights into the nature of this experience-dependent effect. A higher frequency of relatively slow fixation latencies was observed in the feedback group, with such responses being generally less prone to capture, reflecting a speed-accuracy tradeoff. Fixations with slower latencies were also associated with a reduced frequency of oculomotor capture in the feedback group, whereas the fastest responses were almost exclusively stimulus-driven across participants and unaffected by feedback. These effects of feedback persisted when feedback was removed and they generalized to novel stimuli. Our findings suggest that, without any instruction concerning how to use the feedback, the oculomotor system defaults to delaying saccadic responses to allow more time for goal-directed influences on selection to come online, reflecting a history-dependent shift in oculomotor processing.

published proceedings

  • Cognition

author list (cited authors)

  • Anderson, B. A., & Mrkonja, L.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Anderson, Brian A||Mrkonja, Lana

publication date

  • December 2021