Is the exogenous orienting of spatial attention truly automatic? Evidence from unimodal and multisensory studies

Valerio Santangelo, Charles Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The last decade has seen great progress in the study of the nature of crossmodal links in exogenous and endogenous spatial attention (see [Spence, C., McDonald, J., & Driver, J. (2004). Exogenous spatial cuing studies of human crossmodal attention and multisensory integration. In C. Spence, & J. Driver (Eds.), Crossmodal space and crossmodal attention (pp. 277-320). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.], for a recent review). A growing body of research now highlights the existence of robust crossmodal links between auditory, visual, and tactile spatial attention. However, until recently, studies of exogenous and endogenous attention have proceeded relatively independently. In daily life, however, these two forms of attentional orienting continuously compete for the control of our attentional resources, and ultimately, our awareness. It is therefore critical to try and understand how exogenous and endogenous attention interact in both the unimodal context of the laboratory and the multisensory contexts that are more representative of everyday life. To date, progress in understanding the interaction between these two forms of orienting has primarily come from unimodal studies of visual attention. We therefore start by summarizing what has been learned from this large body of empirical research, before going on to review more recent studies that have started to investigate the interaction between endogenous and exogenous orienting in a multisensory setting. We also discuss the evidence suggesting that exogenous spatial orienting is not truly automatic, at least when assessed in a crossmodal context. Several possible models describing the interaction between endogenous and exogenous orienting are outlined and then evaluated in terms of the extant data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1015
Number of pages27
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

Keywords

  • Automaticity
  • Endogenous
  • Exogenous
  • Multisensory
  • Orienting
  • Spatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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