No-Onset Looming Motion Guides Spatial Attention

Adrian von Mühlenen, Alejandro Lleras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


These 6 experiments explored the ability of moving random dot patterns to attract attention, as measured by a simple probe-detection task. Each trial began with random motion (i.e., dots linearly moved in random directions). After 1 s motion in 1 hemifield became gradually coherent (i.e., all dots moved up-, down-, left-, or rightwards, or either towards or away from a vanishing point). The results show that only looming motion attracted attention, even when the task became a more demanding discrimination task. This effect is not due to an apparent magnification of stimuli presented in the focus of expansion. When the coherent motion started abruptly, all types of motion attracted attention at a short stimulus onset asynchrony. The looming motion effect only disappeared when attention was drawn to the target location by an arrow. These results suggest that looming motion plays a unique role in guiding spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1310
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • automatic processes
  • motion perception
  • random dot motion
  • visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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