A Unique Role of Endogenous Visual-Spatial Attention in Rapid Processing of Multiple Targets

Emmanuel Guzman-Martinez*, Marcia Grabowecky, German Palafox, Satoru Suzuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Visual spatial attention can be exogenously captured by a salient stimulus or can be endogenously allocated by voluntary effort. Whether these two attention modes serve distinctive functions is debated, but for processing of single targets the literature suggests superiority of exogenous attention (it is faster acting and serves more functions). We report that endogenous attention uniquely contributes to processing of multiple targets. For speeded visual discrimination, response times are faster for multiple redundant targets than for single targets because of probability summation and/or signal integration. This redundancy gain was unaffected when attention was exogenously diverted from the targets but was completely eliminated when attention was endogenously diverted. This was not a result of weaker manipulation of exogenous attention because our exogenous and endogenous cues similarly affected overall response times. Thus, whereas exogenous attention is superior for processing single targets, endogenous attention plays a unique role in allocating resources crucial for rapid concurrent processing of multiple targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1073
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Endogenous attention
  • Exogenous attention
  • Multiple targets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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