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Spatial constancy of attention across eye movements is mediated by the presence of visual objects

Recent studies have shown that attentional fa- cilitation lingers at the retinotopic coordinates of a pre- viously attended position after an eye movement. These results are intriguing, because the retinotopic location becomes behaviorally irrelevant once the eyes have moved. Critically, in these studies participants were asked to maintain attention on a blank location of the screen. In the present study, we examined whether the continuing presence of a visual object at the cued loca- tion could affect the allocation of attention across eye movements. We used a trans-saccadic cueing paradigm in which the relevant positions could be defined or not by visual objects (simple square outlines). We find an attentional benefit at the spatiotopic location of the cue only when the object (the placeholder) has been contin- uously present at that location. We conclude that the presence of an object at the attended location is a crit- ical factor for the maintenance of spatial constancy of attention across eye movements, a finding that helps to reconcile previous conflicting results.



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