Automated Symbolic Orienting Revisited: Do Words Elicit the Same Effect?

Poster Presentation: Sunday, May 19, 2024, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Attention: Features, objects 2

Blaire J Weidler1 (), Samuel W Bennett2, Jared J McGinley1, Elliott Fowble1; 1Towson University, 2Washington University in St. Louis

Traditionally, spatial attention was thought to be allocated either through endogenous (voluntary) orienting or exogenous (reflexive) orienting processes. However, Ristic and Kingstone (2012) suggested that a third form of orienting (automated symbolic orienting) that operates independently and in parallel with the other two forms of orienting could be elicited using nonpredictive arrow cues. Other prior research has found that directional word cues produce a similar effect as that of arrow cues. However, it is yet unknown whether the effect of nonpredictive words cues is due to automated symbolic orienting. Experiment 1 replicated Ristic and Kingstone (2012) but replaced the nonpredictive arrows with nonpredictive direction words. On each trial, participants detected the presence of a target as quickly as possible. Prior to the target’s appearance, a traditional endogenous (predictive number) or exogenous (non-predictive border bolding) cue was presented simultaneously with a nonpredictive word cue. Words did not elicit any cueing effect, suggesting that the effect of nonpredictive words found in previous studies was not due to automated symbolic orienting. In Experiment 2, we performed a direct replication of Ristic and Kingstone (2012) using nonpredictive arrows, and the results supported the original findings for arrows eliciting automated symbolic orienting. Taken together, these findings suggest that directional word cues do not elicit automatic symbol orienting in the same way as arrows.