The Influence of Focused and Sustained Spatial Attention on the Allocation of Spatial Attention

Congratulations to Damon G. LambJohn B. Williamson,  and Kenneth M. Heilman on the publication of “The Influence of Focused and Sustained Spatial Attention on the Allocation of Spatial Attention” in November online issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.



The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of directed and sustained attention on the allocation of visuospatial attention. Healthy people often have left lateral and upward vertical spatial attentional biases. However, it is not known whether there will be an increase in bias toward the attended portion of the stimulus when volitional spatial attention is allocated to a portion of a stimulus, whether there are asymmetrical spatial alterations of these biases, and how sustained attention influences these biases.

Methods: We assessed spatial bias in 36 healthy, right-handed participants using a variant of horizontal and vertical line bisections. Participants were asked to focus on one or the other end of vertical or horizontal lines or entire vertical or horizontal lines, and then to bisect the line either immediately or after a 20 second delay.

Results: We found a significant main effect of attentional focus and an interaction between attentional focus and prolonged viewing with delayed bisection. Focusing on a certain portion of the line resulting in a significant deviation toward the attended portion and prolonged viewing of the line prior to bisection significantly enhanced the degree of deviation toward the attended portion.

Conclusions: The enhanced bias with directed and sustained attention may be useful modifications of the line bisection test, particularly in clinical populations. Thus, future studies should determine whether prolonged viewing with delayed bisection and spatially focused attention reveals attentional biases in patients with hemispheric lesions who perform normally on the traditional line bisection test. (JINS, 2018, 00, 1–7)