Attentional engagement is not sufficient to prevent spatial capture

Alon Zivony*, Dominique Lamy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


What conditions, if any, can fully prevent attentional capture (i.e., involuntary allocation of spatial attention to an irrelevant object) has been a matter of debate. In a previous study, Folk, Ester, and Troemel (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 16:127-132, 2009) suggested that attentional capture can be blocked entirely when attention is already engaged in a different object. This conclusion relied on the finding that in a search for a known-color target in a rapid serial visual presentation stream, a peripheral distractor with the target color did not further impair target identification performance when a distractor also with the target color that appeared in the stream had already captured attention. In the present study, we argue that this conclusion is unwarranted, because the effects of the central and peripheral distractors could not be disentangled. In order to isolate the effect of the peripheral distractor, we introduced a distractor-target letter compatibility manipulation. Our results showed that the peripheral distractor summoned attention, irrespective of whether attention had just been engaged. We conclude that neither spatially focused attention nor attentional engagement is sufficient to prevent attentional capture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


FundersFunder number
United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2009425
Israel Science Foundation1475/12


    • Attentional blink
    • Attentional capture
    • Space-based attention


    Dive into the research topics of 'Attentional engagement is not sufficient to prevent spatial capture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this