Attentional asymmetries in a visual orienting task are related to temperament

Cognition and Emotion 26 (8):1508-1515 (2012)
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Spatial asymmetries are an intriguing feature of directed attention. Recent observations indicate an influence of temperament upon the direction of these asymmetries. It is unknown whether this influence generalises to visual orienting behaviour. The aim of the current study was therefore to explore the relationship between temperament and measures of spatial orienting as a function of target hemifield. An exogenous cueing task was administered to 92 healthy participants. Temperament was assessed using Carver and White's (1994) Behavioural Inhibition System and Behavioural Activation System (BIS/BAS) scales. Individuals with high sensitivity to punishment and low sensitivity to reward showed a leftward asymmetry of directed attention when there was no informative spatial cue provided. This asymmetry was not present when targets were preceded by spatial cues that were either valid or invalid. The findings support the notion that individual variations in temperament influence spatial asymmetries in visual orienting, but only when lateral targets are preceded by a non-directional (neutral) cue. The results are discussed in terms of hemispheric asymmetries and dopamine activity



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Joseph Wagner
Colgate University

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