Capturing spatial attention with multisensory cues

Valerio Santangelo, Cristy Ho, Charles Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assessed the influence of multisensory interactions on the exogenous orienting of spatial attention by comparing the ability of auditory, tactile, and audiotactile exogenous cues to capture visuospatial attention under conditions of no perceptual load versus high perceptual load. In Experiment 1, participants discriminated the elevation of visual targets preceded by either unimodal or bimodal cues under conditions of either a high perceptual load (involving the monitoring of a rapidly presented central stream of visual letters for occasionally presented target digits) or no perceptual load (when the central stream was replaced by a fixation point). All of the cues captured spatial attention in the no-load condition, whereas only the bimodal cues captured visuospatial attention in the high-load condition. In Experiment 2, we ruled out the possibility that the presentation of any changing stimulus at fixation (i.e., a passively monitored stream of letters) would eliminate exogenous orienting, which instead appears to be a consequence of high perceptual load conditions (Experiment 1). These results demonstrate that multisensory cues capture spatial attention more effectively than unimodal cues under conditions of concurrent perceptual load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-403
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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