Spatial attention triggered by unimodal, crossmodal, and bimodal exogenous cues: a comparison of reflexive orienting mechanisms

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The aim of this study was to establish whether spatial attention triggered by bimodal exogenous cues acts differently as compared to unimodal and crossmodal exogenous cues due to crossmodal integration. In order to investigate this issue, we examined cuing effects in discrimination tasks and compared these effects in a condition wherein a visual target was preceded by both visual and auditory exogenous cues delivered simultaneously at the same side (bimodal cue), with conditions wherein the visual target was preceded by either a visual (unimodal cue) or an auditory cue (crossmodal cue). The results of two experiments revealed that cuing effects on RTs in these three conditions with an SOA of 200 ms had comparable magnitudes. Differences at a longer SOA of 600 ms (inhibition of return for bimodal cues, Experiment 1) disappeared when catch trials were included (in Experiment 2). The current data do not support an additional influence of crossmodal integration on exogenous orienting, but are well in agreement with the existence of a supramodal spatial attention module that allocates attentional resources towards stimulated locations for different sensory modalities.

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