The spotlight of attention illuminates failed feature-based expectancies

Jesse J. Bengson, Javier Lopez-Calderon, George R Mangun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A well-replicated finding is that visual stimuli presented at an attended location are afforded a processing benefit in the form of speeded reaction times and increased accuracy (Mangun, 1995; Posner, 1979). This effect has been described using a spotlight metaphor, in which all stimuli within the focus of spatial attention receive facilitated processing, irrespective of other stimulus parameters. However, the spotlight metaphor has been brought into question by a series of combined expectancy studies that demonstrated that the behavioral benefits of spatial attention are contingent on secondary feature-based expectancies (Kingstone, 1992). The present work used an event-related potential (ERP) approach to reveal that the early neural signature of the spotlight of spatial attention is not sensitive to the validity of secondary feature-based expectancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1101-1108
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Cognition
  • Normal volunteers
  • Sensation/perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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