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The speed of attentional shifts in the visual field.

  • J Saarinen
  • B Julesz
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1991


The scanning speed of focal visual attention was measured directly by flashing a sequence of two, three, or four numerals one by one at random retinal positions and at a distance from each other to avoid interference between the numerals. Each numeral was followed by a mask pattern so the observers had to move their focal attention in the visual field in synchrony and at the same speed as the presentation rate of the numerals in order to recognize every numeral in the stimulus sequence. Observers could recognize the numerals orders of magnitude above the theoretical chance level of performance even when the presentation rate was as fast as 33 ms per numeral. However, the temporal order of the numerals was perceived rather poorly at the fast presentation rates and for the sequences of four numerals.

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