Attentional orienting induced by arrows and eye-gaze compared with an endogenous cue

D. Brignani, D. Guzzon, C. A. Marzi, C. Miniussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exogenous orienting has been widely studied by using peripheral cues whereas endogenous orienting has been studied with directional central cues. However, recent evidence has shown that centrally presented eye-gaze and arrows may produce an automatic rather than voluntary orienting of attention. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the behavioural and electrophysiological (event-related potentials-ERP) correlates of the attentional shift induced by arrows and eye-gaze. In order to have a control condition, we compared arrows and eye-gaze with a purely endogenous cue, i.e., a texture arbitrarily coding one direction. We analyzed the ERP components (P1, N1, P2a, P2p, P3) elicited by the cue stimuli and the early lateralised attentional effect (early directing attention negativity-EDAN). In addition, in order to investigate the topography of the neural mechanisms underlying the cortical activity in each cueing condition, we applied a temporal segmentation procedure. The results showed that the three cueing conditions induced a different strength of activation within the same cortical network. Occipito-parietal regions were involved in the early processing of visual information, followed by an involvement of frontal areas, likely implicated in learning associations. These data confirm the assumption that, in contrast to purely endogenous cues, arrows and eye-gaze induce a very fast attentional shift. However, the similarity of the ERP components and of the topographical cortical maps among conditions suggest that this early orienting of attention is more likely related to an overlearned association mechanism rather than to a real exogenous attentional process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-381
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Attention
  • Automatic and voluntary orienting
  • Central cues
  • ERPs
  • Event-related potentials
  • Visual orienting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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