The aim of the present study was to investigate how spatial attention influences directional manual and saccadic reaction times. Two experiments were carried out. In experiment 1 subjects were instructed to perform pointing responses toward targets that were located either in the same or the opposite hemifield with respect to the hemifield in which an imperative stimulus was presented. In experiment 2, they were instructed to make saccadic or pointing responses. The direction of the responses was indicated by the shape of the imperative stimulus. Reaction time (RT), movement time, and, in experiment 2, saccadic trajectory were measured. The imperative stimulus location was either cued (endogenous attention) or uncued. In the latter case the imperative stimulus presentation attracted attention (exogenous attention). The main results of the experiments were the following: First, exogenous attention markedly decreased the RTs when the required movement was directed toward the imperative stimulus location. This directional effect was much stronger for pointing than for ocular responses. Second, endogenously allocated attention did not influence differentially RTs of pointing responses directed toward or away the attended hemifield. In contrast, endogenous attention markedly favored the saccadic responses when made away from the cued hemifield. Third, regardless of cueing, the direction of movement affected both pointing and saccadic reaction times. Saccadic reaction times were faster when the required movement was directed upward, while manual reaction times were faster when the movement was directed downward. Fourth, lateralized spatial attention deviated the trajectory of the saccades contralateral to the attention location. This pattern of results supports the notion that spatial attention depends on the activation of the same sensorimotor circuits that program actions in space.
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