Top-Down Influences Mediate Hand Bias in Spatial Attention

Student Co-author

Pitzer Undergraduate

Document Type



Psychology (CMC)

Publication Date



Spatial attention can be biased to locations near the hand. Some studies have found facilitated processing of targets appearing within hand-grasping space. In this study, we investigated how changing top-down task priorities alters hand bias during visual processing. In Experiment, we used a covert orienting paradigm with nonpredictive cues and emphasized the location of the hand relative to the target. Hands or visual anchors (boards) were placed next to potential target locations, and responses were made with the contralateral hand. Results indicated a hand-specific processing bias: Hand location, but not board location, speeded responses to targets near the hand. This pattern of results replicated previous studies using covert orienting paradigms with highly predictive cues. In Experiment, we used the same basic paradigm but emphasized the location of the response hand. Results now showed speeded responses to targets near response locations. Together these experiments demonstrated that top-down instructional sets (i.e., what is considered to be most relevant to task performance) can change the processing priority of hand location by influencing the strength of top-down, as compared with bottom-up, inputs competing for attention resources.

Rights Information

© 2013 Psychonomic Society, Inc.