Oculomotor capture by surprising onsets

Richard Godijn, Arthur Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the effect of surprising onsets on oculomotor behaviour. Participants were required to execute a saccadic eye movement to a colour singleton target. After a series of trials an unexpected onset distractor was abruptly presented on the surprise trial. The presentation of the onset was repeated on subsequent trials. The results showed that the onset captured the eyes for 28% of the participants on the surprise trial, but this percentage decreased after repeated exposure to the onset. Furthermore, saccade latencies to the target were increased when a surprising onset was presented. After repeated exposure to the onset, latencies to the target decreased to the preonset level. The results suggest that when the onset is not part of participants' task set it has a strong effect on oculomotor behaviour. Once the task set has been updated and the onset no longer comes as a surprise its effect on oculomotor behaviour is dramatically reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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