Our Eyes Do Not Always Go Where We Want Them to Go: Capture of the Eyes by New Objects

Jan Theeuwes, Arthur F. Kramer, Sowon Hahn, David E. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observers make rapid eye movements to examine the world around them. Before an eye movement is made, attention is coverth shifted to the location of the object of interest. The eyes typically will land at the position at which attention is directed. Here we report that a goal-directed eye movement toward a uniquely colored object is disrupted by the appearance of a new but task-irrelevant object, unless subjects have a sufficient amount of time to focus their attention on the location of the target prior to the appearance of the new object. In many instances, the eyes started moving toward the new object before gaze started to shift to the color-singleton target. The eyes often landed for a very short period of time (25-150 ms) near the new object. The results suggest parallel programming of two saccades: one voluntary, goal-directed eye movement toward the color-singleton target and one stimulus-driven eye movement reflexively elicited by the appearance of the new object. Neuroanatomical structures responsible for parallel programming of saccades are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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