Where does attention go when you blink?

David E. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many studies have shown that covert visual attention precedes saccadic eye movements to locations in space. The present research investigated whether the allocation of attention is similarly affected by eye blinks. Subjects completed a partial-report task under blink and no-blink conditions. Experiment 1 showed that blinking facilitated report of the bottom row of the stimulus array: Accuracy for the bottom row increased and mislocation errors decreased under blink, as compared with no-blink, conditions, indicating that blinking influenced the allocation of visual attention. Experiment 2 showed that this was true even when subjects were biased to attend elsewhere. These results indicate that attention moves downward before a blink in an involuntary fashion. The eyes also move downward during blinks, so attention may precede blink-induced eye movements just as it precedes saccades and other types of eye movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1374-1384
Number of pages11
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Attention
  • Eye blinks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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