Look here but ignore what you see: Effects of distractors at fixation

Diane M. Beck, Nilli Lavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Distractor interference effects were compared between distractors in the periphery and those placed at fixation. In 6 experiments, the authors show that fixation distractors produce larger interference effects than peripheral distractors. However, the fixation distractor effects are modulated by perceptual load to the same extent as are peripheral distractor effects (Experiments 1 and 2). Experiment 3 showed that fixation distractors are harder to filter out than peripheral distractors. The larger distractor effects at fixation are not due to the cortical magnification of foveal stimuli (Experiments 4 and 5), nor can they be attributed to cuing by the fixation point (Experiment 2), the lower predictability or greater location certainty of fixation distractors (Experiment 5), or their being in a central position (Experiment 6). The authors suggest that preferential access to attention renders fixation distractors harder to ignore than peripheral distractors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-607
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Distractor
  • Fovea
  • Perceptual load
  • Response competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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