The Relationship Between Spatial Attention and Eye Movements

Amelia R Hunt, Josephine Reuther, Matthew D Hilchey, Raymond M Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The nature of the relationship between spatial attention and eye movements has been the subject of intense debate for more than 40 years. Two ideas have dominated this debate. First is the idea that spatial attention shares common neural mechanisms with eye movement programming, characterizing attention as an eye movement that has been prepared but not executed. Second, based on the observation that attention shifts to saccade targets, several theories have proposed that saccade programming necessarily recruits attentional resources. In this chapter, we review the evidence for each of these ideas and discuss some of the limitations and challenges in confirming their predictions. Although they are clearly dependent under some circumstances, dissociations between spatial attention and eye movements, and clear differences in their basic functions, point to the existence of two interconnected, but separate, systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
Subtitle of host publicationProcesses of Visuo-spatial Attention and Working Memory
EditorsT Hodgson
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-31026-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-31025-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
ISSN (Print)1866-3370


  • Attention
  • Eye movements
  • Premotor theory
  • Spatial orienting


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