Limits of focused attention in three-dimensional space

George J. Andersen, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present experiment examined the shape of the attentional gradient in three-dimensional space. Subjects performed a response-compatibility task in which they were instructed to respond to a centrally located target and ignore flanking distractors. The irrelevant distractors were presented at combinations of seven different depths, three different horizontal separations, and three different vertical separations relative to the target. Depth was varied in a stereoscopic display viewed through polarized glasses. Overall, the size of the response-compatibility effect decreased with increased separation in all three dimensions. Interestingly, the response-compatibility effect was larger for horizontal separations than for vertical separations and was larger for crossed disparities than for uncrossed disparities. The results suggest an elliptical focus of attention, with steeper gradients in the vertical dimensions than in the horizontal dimensions. In addition, the results suggest, along the vertical dimension, a steeper gradient for objects located beyond the focus of attention relative to that for objects located between the observer and the focus of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-667
Number of pages10
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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