Focused Attention Distorts Visual Space: An Attentional Repulsion Effect

Satoru Suzuki*, Patrick Cavanagh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Attention was focused at a specific location either by a briefly flashed cue (cue-induced attention) or by a voluntary effort (voluntary attention). In both cases, briefly presented probes appeared displaced away from the focus of attention. The results showed that the effect of cue-induced attention was transient whereas the effect of voluntary attention was long lasting. The repulsion effect was most evident with brief probe durations (<200 ms). Control experiments ruled out nonattentional hypotheses based on classic figural aftereffects and apparent motion. Although a number of studies have demonstrated enhancements of visual perception at attended locations, the present studies show that focused attention can distort the encoding of nearby positions. Speculation is offered that the repulsion effect is one of the costs involved in the allocation of more resources to the focus of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-463
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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